Our hospital offers radiation therapy as part of our oncology services. Radiation therapy is often used in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy to provide control or death of a tumor. Radiation is best suited to tumors that have not spread to other areas of the body and it offers a potential cure for some localized tumors. Radiation can also be used to help shrink an unresectable tumor to improve the quality of life of the pet by reducing pressure, bleeding or pain.
Radiation therapy involves the use of beams of photons, electrons, or gamma rays focused on the tumor. When the beam hits the cancer cell it destroys the ability of the cell to divide and grow. This slows the growth rate and ultimately causes death of the cancer cells and causes the tumor to shrink over time. Radiation can affect both normal cells and cancer cells, but the effect on the cancer cells is more profound and destructive. Although side effects are possible, severe toxicity in pets is rare. Many tumors respond well to radiation therapy and include oral tumors, nasal tumors, skin tumors (including mast cell tumors) and brain tumors. Some tumors, such as lymph and bone tumors require combination therapy with chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Ask our staff or veterinarians if you have additional questions about radiation therapy.