Cancer poses a significant risk to pets, particularly to aging and geriatric animals. Early cancer diagnoses and proper treatment can improve your pet’s quality of life and help him or her to live longer with fewer complications. You can be proactive in your pet’s well-being by observing your pet and reporting any physical and behavioral changes you see to your veterinarian. Remember that allowing your veterinarian an opportunity to detect problems early gives your pet the best chance at successful treatment and recovery.
Our oncology services include cancer screening, chemotherapy, and surgery. Your veterinarian will provide you with information about your pet’s condition and discuss which proven treatment options will most benefit your pet. In many cases, your veterinarian will consult with our oncology specialist, Dr. Steve Atwater, for treatment recommendations and possible outcomes so that you will receive all options that are available.
There are more oncology options than ever before, such as chemotherapy, surgery, nutritional support, and clinical trials. We understand that this can be a difficult time for you and your pet. We want to assure you that our primary goal is to enhance your pet’s quality of life and provide the most appropriate treatment solutions to fight the disease.
To schedule an appointment with our Oncology Specialist at VCA Encina Veterinary Medical Center, please call us at 925-937-5000 and ask for a consultation with Dr. Stephen Atwater.
Just as in people, there is no proven way to keep your pet from getting cancer. You can, however, take steps to minimize the risks. Avoid any known predisposing causes, such as not spaying or neutering pets, or leaving pets exposed to sunlight. Also make sure your pet has regularly scheduled checkups and follow your veterinarian's advice regarding any necessary screening tests.
Any veterinarian who wants to specialize in oncology must first be certified as an internal medicine specialist. Veterinarians who want to become board certified in internal medicine must seek additional, intensive training to become a specialist and earn this prestigious credentialing. Specialty status is granted by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM). A veterinarian who has received this specialty status will list the initials, 'DACVIM,' after his or her DVM degree. Or, the veterinarian may indicate that he or she is a 'Diplomate' of the ACVIM. The word 'Diplomate' typically means the specialist has achieved the following:
• Obtained a traditional 8-year veterinary degree (four years of college plus four years of veterinary school).
• Completed an additional three to six years of advanced training, including a residency at a veterinary teaching hospital where the veterinarian will have trained with some of the best experts in the field and obtained hands on experience.
• Completed the credentialing application process established by the ACVIM
• Passed a rigorous general examination.
When your pet needs the care of a veterinary internal medicine specialist/veterinary oncologist, years of intensive training and additional education will be focused on helping him or her to recover from the disease and/or enjoy the highest quality of life possible.
The goal of cancer therapy is to destroy abnormal cancer cells while sparing normal cells. An important difference in human vs. animal oncology is that the goal with humans, due to our extended life spans, is to cure the disease. In animals, the goal is more to extend the length of life while still maintaining its
In many cases, a veterinary oncologist will combine some or all of the treatment options outlined below in order to provide the very best outcome for your pet.
• Radiation Treatment
Your veterinary oncologist will give you specific instructions regarding your pet's chemotherapy, but in general, you should be aware that pets typically handle chemotherapy regimens far better than people do. First, as cancer treatment for both humans and small animals has become more sophisticated, the side effects created by chemotherapy regimens have become less severe. Second, chemotherapy administration in animals is less aggressive than it is in humans, so animals typically do not become as sick from the side effects as do people.
Finally, veterinary oncologists have many options at their disposal to help keep your pet comfortable during treatment for his or her disease. From pain management options to special nutritional recommendations to medications that can help lessen the nausea associated with chemotherapy, be assured that veterinary oncologists can keep most pets surprisingly comfortable during treatment. In fact, one of the biggest hurdles to treating pets with cancer is that many owners imagine their pet's treatment will be more difficult than it really is.