Welcome to the Oncology Department at Veterinary Referral Associates!
What Is A Veterinary Oncologist?
A board certified veterinary oncologist is a veterinarian who has completed an approved residency training program in medical oncology, passed two separate rigorous specialization exams, and published original research study within their field, thereby obtaining the status of Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, with a sub-specialist certification in medical oncology. A veterinary oncologist has specialized knowledge in the diagnosis of cancer, the staging of tumors, the development of treatment plans, and the safe handling and administration of chemotherapy. Often, board certified veterinary specialists participate in clinical chemotherapy/immunotherapy trials, offering the highest and most advanced level of care for your pet.
Our veterinarians typically work in concert with your pet's veterinarian in order to obtain the best possible outcome for your pet. They can help your pet by developing treatment plans that incorporate one or more of the following options:
- Palliative Care
While your general practitioner can diagnose and treat many health problems, optimal treatment for certain diseases like cancer require the care of a doctor who has had specialized, intensive training in veterinary oncology.
Why Does My Pet Need A Veterinary Oncologist?
Just as in humans, a pet with cancer typically needs the help of an oncologist to help diagnose and treat the disease. Our veterinarians will determine the most appropriate course of treatment and coordinate the treatment program for pets with cancer. They also frequently consults with veterinarians to ensure patients receive the best treatment possible for their cancer. You can be assured that a veterinarian who refers you and your pet to VCA VRA is one that 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 our veterinarians about your pet's care, in many cases it is necessary to actually refer you and your pet to see us for advanced diagnostics and treatment.
Our veterinarians may also have access to specialized diagnostic or treatment tools that a general practitioner veterinarian may not have. We use the safest and most advanced equipment for drawing up and administering chemotherapy, reducing the risk of exposure to staff, owners, and pets. Veterinary technicians working alongside our veterinarians have also undergone intensive training in the handling and administration of chemotherapy, which reduces the risk for treatment related complications, and they act as excellent resources for owners regarding questions about chemotherapy.
My Pet Has Cancer. Now What?
The first step is to take a deep breath. A diagnosis of cancer can evoke many different emotions and it's important to take the time to learn about all of the possible options available for your pet before making important decisions about their care.
The most important point to realize about your pet's diagnosis is that just as in people, many cancers 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. It's a good idea to have your veterinarian to write down the most important points for you to ask during your initial consultation.
Although a diagnosis of cancer always instills a sense of urgency, it is important that treatment decisions are made in an informed manner and after careful consideration of all available options. Therefore, if your pet is diagnosed with cancer, you will either want to have your general practice veterinarian work in consultation with a veterinary oncologist, or be referred to us for your pet's treatment.
Some Common Cancers Treated By Medical Oncologists:
- Skin tumors (e.g. mast cell tumors)
- Oral tumors (e.g. squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma)
- Lung tumors
- Gastrointestinal tract tumors, including stomach tumors, intestinal tumors, anal gland tumors
- Mammary tumors
- Bladder tumors
- Endocrine tumors (e.g. thyroid tumors, pancreatic tumors)