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Arathi Vinayak

DVM, DACVS-SA ACVS (Fellow, Surgical Oncology)
Arathi V
Veterinarian Specialist
Surgical Oncology, Oncology
Availability: Monday - Thursday
Arathi V

At a Glance

Board Certified:

Surgery

Specialties Include:

Oncology surgery

Undergrad school: University of Georgia
Veterinary school: University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine
Internship: University of Tennessee    
Residency: Texas A&M University
Surgical Oncology Fellowship: Colorado State University Flint Animal Cancer Center: 
Board Certifications: Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (Dip ACVS) and ACVS Fellow, Surgical Oncology

Why did you choose to become a Veterinary Surgeon and Surgical Oncologist? 
I knew from the age of four that I wanted to be an “animal doctor.” With a single minded focus, I received my Bachelors in Biology from the University of Georgia at the age of 19 and started my first year of veterinary school 2 weeks after my undergrad graduation. As I progressed through the veterinary curriculum, surgery appealed immensely to me. I was fascinated by my surgical mentors working so skillfully with their hands. During my internship, I realized that surgery was so much more than that. Applying for a surgical residency was a no-brainer for me. The ability to ease pain and suffering either almost immediately or put an animal on the path to feeling better was everything I had wanted for my patients. I completed a wonderful 3 year surgical residency at Texas A&M University and stayed on for a year as a clinical instructor in surgery at Texas A&M following my residency during which time I became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (DACVS). I spent the following 7 years as a private practice specialty general surgeon in the Chicago area gaining experience and honing my skills as a surgeon. 

The next phase in my career came as I saw patients with cancer for consultation and surgery. When a person gets cancer, they often have a team of oncologists (medical, radiation, and surgical) and their primary care physician working to not only provide the best care but the best support for the patient. I felt our veterinary patients deserved the same with dedicated cancer centers. During a three year residency, the focus was on all aspects of surgery (orthopedic, neurologic, and soft tissue) without deep focus in any one field. I elected to pursue an American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) credentialed Fellowship in Surgical Oncology to this end. A fellowship is much like a second residency with the sole focus on all aspects of Oncology. The requirements are modeled after those required by the human counterpart organization, the American College of Surgeons, for human Surgical Oncologists. The rigorous curriculum entails maintaining a case log of advanced cancer surgeries, courses on oncologic pathology, medical and radiation biology, chemotherapeutics, clinical trials, and research. With only 2 institutions in the world training veterinary surgical oncologists, I was thrilled to have been accepted to the Colorado State University’s Cancer Center and join the ranks of less than 50 veterinary surgical oncologists in the world. The Fellowship has revolutionized the way I now look at my cancer patients.  I have been trained to evaluate my patients as a whole for a variety of factors including the goals of my clients for their pet, patient tolerance, whether cure is possible, whether surgery is the best option vs. a combination of surgery with other modalities such as chemotherapy or radiation, whether other modalities over surgery are better for the patient, what kind of tumor is it and behavior of the tumor, whether a tumor is truly not operable, to name a few things. Client education is key. 

Research is important in the field of surgical oncology. Without the necessary treatment and outcome information, it is tough to make recommendations. The information is important not only to our veterinary patients but also to humans with a similar cancer process. This field of translation medicine for natural occurring diseases in our veterinary patients has allowed our veterinary patients with naturally occurring tumors to participate in clinical trials that is advancing the field of oncology and improving survival times in both veterinary patients and humans alike. I am avidly involved in research and publications. My recent 5 publications/research interests in the last year have been on malignant melanoma (submitted to JSAP), dedifferentiated chondrosarcoma (submitted to JAAHA), radiation limbspare with prophylactic surgical stabilization (submitted to Vet Surg), liver lobectomy (in the process of completion), and osteosarcoma in juvenile patients (in the process of completion).

Why do you choose to practice at VCA West Coast?
I have joined VCA West Coast to practice Surgical Oncology the way I have long desired. I am joining ranks with Dr. Mary Kay Blake (medical oncology), and Dr. Beatrix Jenei (radiation oncology) also trained at the Colorado State University in their fields to treat patients using a combined oncology approach.  I believe that this new facility can provide state of the art veterinary cancer care not often found in private practice. I am looking forward to providing the SoCal community specialized oncologic surgeries such as surgical limb spares for bone cancer, thoracic and abdominal wall resection and reconstructions, complex intrathoracic and abdominal tumors, minimally invasive urethral, tracheal, colonic and esophageal stenting, surgery for complex maxillofacial tumors, thyroid/hyoid tumors, etc.

What do you enjoy doing outside of practicing medicine?
I am very blessed to have a wonderful husband, 2 boys, and my siberian “Kitten.” My time away from work often involves chasing my 2 boys around (kumon, martial arts classes, going to the beach and movies).  

See our departments

Surgical Oncology

How are veterinary surgical oncologists uniquely qualified and able to help my pet?

A veterinary surgical oncologist is a board-certified veterinary surgeon credentialed with the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (DACVS) who has completed a surgery residency and passed the examinations and requirements to become a small animal surgeon. After the residency, additional training in the form of a fellowship in the field of cancer surgery must be completed. The additional fellowship training is not only a clinical program, but also involves courses in cancer biology, cancer genetics, radiation biology and cancer pathology. The fellowship program also has a research component focused on advancing the field of cancer treatment. Once the fellowship program has been completed, the surgeon is credentialed for the second time with “ACVS Fellow, Surgical Oncology.” With this title, a veterinary surgical oncologist makes a commitment to dedicate all or a major portion of their career to furthering the field of cancer treatment and research. 

What is surgical oncology?

Surgical oncology is the removal of cancerous tissue via surgery. Seventy percent of solid tumors are cured by advanced surgery techniques without need for additional therapy. At VCA West Coast, cancer surgery is done by a board certified veterinary surgical oncologist, who is one of only about 50 veterinary surgical oncologists in the entire world. We are proud to bring this exceptional level of care to our patients.

What types of cancer are treated with surgical oncology?

Our veterinary surgical oncologist works with our medical and radiation oncologists to develop the best treatment plan for each patient. At VCA West Coast, we offer surgical management of numerous tumor types, including, but not limited to:

  • Various skin tumors (benign and malignant)
  • Anal sac tumors and related lymph node removal
  • Heart and lung tumors
  • Cancerous lymph nodes
  • Bone, muscle, and nerve/nerve root tumors
  • Thyroid and parathyroid tumors
  • Body wall reconstructions and rib resections
  • Cancers of the head and neck, including complex mouth surgeries
  • Tumors of the bladder, liver, intestine, pancreas, spleen, adrenal gland and more

Can my elderly pet with other concurrent problems handle cancer surgery and anesthesia?

Age is fortunately not a disease. The average age of a surgical oncology patient is between 10 and 16 years. We find that our older patients do just as well as younger patients under anesthesia and can often be cured with surgery alone for localized tumors. As pets age, they often have concurrent diseases which we take into consideration when coming up with the anesthesia plan as well as the treatment plan.

What if I am not sure whether I want to pursue surgery for my pet. Should I still see a surgical oncologist?

A veterinary surgical oncologist is educated in all options for treating a tumor. Thus, a surgical oncology consultation will provide you with ALL options for treatment, depending on your goal for your pet. If you’re unsure, the best way to make a decision is by getting all the information you need to make an educated choice. A consultation appointment with a veterinary surgical oncologist is an opportunity for you to get a complete understanding of your pet’s cancer diagnosis and prognosis (outcome), learn which diagnostic tests are recommended and hear about all of the treatment options available. Then you’ll be able to make a choice that’s right for you, your family and your pet. 

If you elect to pursue surgery, the staff will meet with you to review the written estimate, schedule the procedure and discuss what to expect the day of surgery.

What will the prognosis for my pet be with surgery?

The prognosis for your pet is dependent on the type of tumor, grade of the tumor (how aggressive the tumor is seen to be on the biopsy test), whether the cancer has spread anywhere (stage of the disease) and the treatment option you decide to proceed with. Your surgical oncologist will recommend the necessary diagnostics to determine the stage of the disease (extent of spread, if any) and provide you with expected survival times from the veterinary literature if surgery is elected.  

Why is it important to have advanced imaging (CT scans) performed prior to surgery?

Detailed imaging scans with CT will help with determining if there are any early signs of spread in the chest or abdomen and provide information needed to develop a surgical plan. Oftentimes, tumors are excised with wide margins, meaning that the tumor and a certain amount of normal tissue around and behind the tumor will be removed. This ensures that all of the cancer has been removed, thus minimizing the chance of local recurrence and distant spread. CT allows the most accurate development of a surgical plan due to greater visualization of the mass and surrounding tissue. It also allows us to assess radiation options. Most of the time, this is done on the same day as the consultation under either heavy sedation or light general anesthesia. 

VCA West Coast Specialty and Emergency Animal Hospital

18300 Euclid Street

Fountain Valley, Orange County, CA 92708

Main: 714-241-9001

Fax: 714-241-9020

Hospital Hours:

    Mon-Sun: Open 24 hours

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