A board certified veterinary oncologist is a veterinary internal medicine specialist who has also obtained additional training in veterinary oncology. A veterinary oncologist has specialized knowledge in the diagnosis of cancer, the staging of tumors, the development of treatment plans, and the administration of chemotherapy.
When your pet is faced with cancer, a veterinary oncologist will typically work in concert with your pet's general practitioner veterinarian in order to obtain the best possible medical outcome for your pet. A veterinary oncologist can help your pet by developing treatment plans that incorporate one or all of the following options:
While your general practitioner veterinarian can diagnose and treat many health problems, certain diseases like cancer require the care of a doctor who has had specialized, intensive training in veterinary oncology.
Just as in humans, a pet with cancer typically needs the help of an oncologist to help diagnose and treat the disease. Veterinary oncologists determine the most appropriate course of treatment and coordinate the treatment program for pets with cancer. They also frequently serve as consultants to veterinarians in private practice to ensure that their patients receive the best treatment possible for their cancer.
You can be assured that a veterinarian who refers you and your pet to a veterinary oncologist is one who is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of medical care for his or her illness.
While in some cases, your veterinarian may be able to simply consult with the veterinary oncologist about your pet's care, in other cases it is necessary to actually refer you and your pet to the veterinary oncologist for more advanced diagnostics and treatment. Board-certified veterinary internists/oncologists may also have access to specialized diagnostic or treatment tools that a general practitioner veterinarian may not have.
Cancer does appear to be becoming more common in pets, most likely because they are simply living longer. The most important point to realize about this dreaded disease, however, is that just as in people, many forms of the disease can be easily treated, managed, and even cured. Early detection and specialized care are leading to increased survival and cure rates in almost all the types of cancers that afflict pets.
From surgery to chemotherapy to radiation therapy, veterinary cancer specialists can offer your pet the very latest diagnostic and treatment options and the best chance of survival. With optimal treatment, cancer in many cases simply becomes another manageable chronic disease.
If your pet is diagnosed with cancer, it is important not to become overwhelmed. Ask your veterinarian to write down the most important points for you to review later. Although the disease is serious, treatment decisions generally do not need to be made quickly. If your pet is diagnosed with cancer, however, you will either want to have your general practice veterinarian work in consultation with a veterinary oncologist, or be referred to one of these specialists for your pet's treatment.
Veterinary oncologists typically treat:
There is ongoing research and clinical trials to develop new and effective treatment options for pets with cancer and many veterinary medical advances have been made in recent years. One breakthrough treatment has been the development of ONCEPT Canine Melanoma Vaccine.
Developed by KBVC Oncology Specialist Dr. Philip Bergman in partnership with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Merial, it is the first commercially available vaccine for the treatment of canine melanoma, one of the most common and aggressive forms of cancer in dogs. This innovative DNA-based cancer vaccine has demonstrated significantly longer life spans, even in dogs with Stage II and Stage III canine melanoma.
Since receiving full USDA approval in 2009, thousands of dogs have been treated with ONCEPT and it has shown to be a safe, effective adjunct therapy that can significantly prolong survival times in dogs with canine melanoma. The vaccine is administered via a Canine Transdermal Device, which delivers the vaccine without the use of a needle. ONCEPT is available through our hospital’s Oncology Department. For further information about ONCEPT, please call us at 914-241-7700.
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In most cases, your regular veterinarian will still supervise your pet's veterinary care and will work in tandem with the veterinary oncologist, veterinary radiation oncologist, and any other members of your pet's veterinary health care team.
Dogs and cats have higher age adjusted incidence rates for many kinds of cancers than do humans. For example, dogs are 35 times more likely to get skin cancer than are humans. They suffer from 8 times the amount of bone cancer and 4 times the amount of breast cancer. However, humans are more likely to get lung and stomach cancers than pets