There are round cell tumors, carcinomas, and sarcomas. For example, within each of these cancer categories, there are different types of tumors. Mammary adenocarcinoma, salivary gland adenocarcinoma, and thyroid carcinoma are a few of the dozens of different types of carcinomas. Therefore, the determination of the stage, grade, and histopathologic or cytologic diagnosis empowers your veterinary health care team with the knowledge of the prognosis and the best way to defeat cancer locally, and if needed, throughout the body.
The word cancer is feared throughout the world, yet it is the most curable of all chronic diseases, and it is controllable in many of the patients that are not cured. Understanding this disease empowers you, the caregiver, and the veterinary health care team with important knowledge about the disease and the options for care.
Each tumor is different and unique. Each one must first be given a name; this is only possible with a biopsy or cytology (a test that helps determine the type of tumor). Once the tumor type is named (according to its location with an accompanying description based on the level of aggressiveness), an experienced, highly trained histopathologist can then begin to defeat it.
The “stage” of cancer is the determination of the extent of the disease within the body. A thorough physical examination, blood tests, radiotherapy (X-rays) and ultrasound are often used, among other tests, to find the location of cancer.
The quality of life is our first and greatest goal. By understanding the location, extent, and grade of cancer, we can maximize the quality of life.
Compassionate care is the watchword of your veterinary health care team, and pain control is the cornerstone of the caring process. Pain management can be difficult because pets may be secretive, which precludes identifying pain early when it is easiest to treat. The key to compassionate pain control is to intervene early with analgesics, optimally before pain receptors ever identify discomfort.
Some pets rarely exhibit signs of pain until the discomfort is quite advanced. Indeed, the only indicator of pain and discomfort to the clinician may be increased systolic blood pressure. Experienced veterinary team members and caregivers watch for subtle changes in activity level, appetite, and movements. Vocalization is another sign, although it is not a specific indicator of pain, especially when discomfort is significant. Some pets become more reclusive, but others, especially younger pets, pace and may thrash around. Increased breathing rate, increased heart rate, and dilated pupils can be used to assess pain in pets, even when they seem dazed or lethargic.
The best practitioners anticipate and intervene early rather than waiting for clinical signs associated with discomfort. The best scenario is when the caregiver is well educated about the procedures that could cause discomfort and provides early treatment. Indeed, pain relief measures preemptive analgesia should always be practiced whenever possible. Pets may instinctively hide most outward and measurable manifestations of pain and wait until the last minute before showing any signs of pain.
Comprehensive management of pain involves careful evaluation and treatment of each pet. To maximize the quality of life, response to therapy, and survival time for the patient, adequate pain control must be the highest goal for the veterinary practitioner. Pain control in veterinary medicine has come to the forefront of attention only recently, primarily because of the inappropriate attitudes of clinicians, lack of knowledge about pain medications, and lack of skill in assessing pain and appropriate therapeutic methods. In many cases, analgesics have been withheld because of fear of adverse side effects of these drugs and because insufficient scanty research exists demonstrating the beneficial effects of pain relief in pets. However, client demand has been an important force in bringing pain control to the forefront of compassionate care.
Questions you may want to ask your veterinarian health care team:
The management of pain begins with high-quality, compassionate care by every member of the veterinary health care team. Careful nursing with gentle handling and provision of an environment that is comfortable and relaxing is of great benefit to the dog. Local anesthesia should be used whenever possible to alleviate discomfort. Systemic analgesia should be used whenever there is a possibility that discomfort is not alleviated by local analgesia.