Radiation Oncology

Radiation Oncology Overview

VCA Pet CancerCare

With Varian Halcyon™technology now at VCA Aurora Animal Hospital, we are committed to the future of radiation therapy for your patients.

What is a Veterinary Radiation Oncologist?

A board certified specialist in radiation oncology is a licensed veterinarian who has obtained intensive, additional training in all aspects of the use of radiation to treat cancer in veterinary patients. A veterinary radiation oncologist has specialized knowledge in the diagnosis of cancer, staging of tumors, development of treatment plans, and the set up and delivery of radiation therapy. 


When is Radiation Therapy used?

Radiation Therapy is used in multiple clinical situations but is predominantly used for localized tumors that have not spread to other areas of the body. Sometimes, it can result in a cure for these tumors or long term tumor control. Radiation therapy can be used in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy in a multi-modal approach or radiation therapy can be used to treat cancers that cannot be surgically excised or are not affected by chemotherapy.  Our team of medical experts work together to determine the best course of treatment for each individual patient.  


What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation Therapy works by damaging the DNA within cancer cells and destroying their ability to reproduce. Just as in human medicine, we use a Linear Accelerator in combination with a CT scan to develop a 3D radiation treatment plan. This is called 3D conformal radiation therapy, which allows us to direct radiation to smaller and tighter fields, angle the radiation beam from multiple directions, and use other modifications to the plan to conform the radiation dose so that treatment is localized to the affected area and healthy tissue is not damaged. Radiation is administered in a series of small doses over several weeks. 


What kind of cancers are commonly treated with and respond well to Radiation Therapy?

  • Nasal and sinus cavity tumors
  • Oral tumors
  • Brain and spinal tumors
  • Small or incompletely excised skin tumors
  • Non-resectable tumors
  • Osteosarcoma (palliation)

Services offered in Radiation Oncology

We provide definitive intent and palliative intent radiation treatments as well as quality of life monitoring. Definitive intent radiation therapy is used when the goal with therapy is to achieve long term tumor control and consists of daily therapy for 2-4 weeks. Palliative intent radiation therapy is used to improve or maintain quality of life in cancer patients and treatments are generally once weekly for 4-6 weeks. We can stage patients and are able to offer bloodwork, high quality digital radiography, abdominal ultrasound, 16 slice computed tomography (CT) with quick scanning times, and MRI. We have medical oncologists, surgeons, internists, and a radiologist that all work closely together to develop optimal treatment plans for your patients. Patients are monitored closely during treatments and procedures with advanced monitoring devices and a criticalist is available to help manage high-risk patients.  

What is the Halcyon 3D Radiotherapy System

With precision, speed and power, Halcyon targets complex lesions causing minimal damage to surrounding tissue, requiring fewer sessions and less anesthesia in most cases.

• Halcyon’s innovative collimator is interdigitated and dual layered, allowing for intricate 3D beam shaping with a 5 mm resolution and an unprecedented 0.01% leakage of radiation to non-target tissues. 
• Treatment is 100% image guided with a 3D CT that has a large field of view and excellent soft tissue definition, enabling precise intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and stereotactic radiation therapy (SRT).

• Halcyon features a gantry rotation speed that is four times faster than other radiation systems. 
• Faster speeds enable more complex targets to be treated in the same time as typical treatments, reducing the impact of anesthesia. 
• Ultrafast CT imaging reduces the effect of motion created by breathing.