Cancer therapy - general
- What will my Vet do if he suspects cancer?
If cancer is suspected, the Vet often takes a biopsy to evaluate the malignancy and type of cancer. To get more information about the tumor size, to assess the presence of metastases, and to check the general health status of the animal, other tests are performed, like a blood check, radiography, ultrasound, or sometimes computed tomography. The choice of therapy will depend on these results, but also on other factors like the pet's character and the owner's willingness to comply with the time, logistic, financial and psychological requirements of the particular therapy.
- Can all cancer types be treated?
Many cancerous diseases can be treated with success and in many cases they can be completely cured. As in humans it is essential to make an early diagnosis. The bigger and more advanced a disease the more difficult the treatement.
- What treatment options are available?
Surgery is the main treatment option in cancer therapy. If the tumor cannot be surgically removed in a satisfactory way, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy are used. Besides those classical treatment options, many promising novel therapies are coming into use. For further information please consult the "Oncology" section of our Web page.
- How much stress is a cancer therapy for my animal?
An aggressive cancer therapy can be a big stress for your animal - for a nervous, anxious animal maybe too much. For this reason, treatment options must be evaluated and discussed individually with each client. Together we will decide which will be the optimal therapy for your animal. The respect of the animal's dignity is essential to us. In some cases it may be necessary to abandon an aggressive therapy for a better tolerated treatment option.
- What are the most common side effects of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy?
Surgery: postoperatively swelling and inflammation is not rare, but generally, surgery is well tolerated.
Radiation: side effects are dependent on applied dose and size of the field as well as the location. The most common side effect is a sunburn-like irritiation of the skin in the irradiated area which resolves within about 2-3 weeks, and hair loss with regrowing in a different colour.
We don't observe hair loss in pets submitted to chemotherapy. Some breeds like Poodles, Bobtail or Terrier are likely to respond with a change in haircoat. Vomiting and diarrhea are possible, but, if present, usually mild and short-lived. These side effects can be easily treated.
- How expensive is a cancer therapy in pets?
Depending on the animal and on the tumor type and extent, the therapy of choice can be the simple removal of a small mass, a complicated surgical intervention, a radiation therapy of variable length, a chemotherapy or a combination of those treatments. Therefore the costs are very variable and go approximately from 400.- to 6000.- CHF.
- Should I apply for insurance in older cats and dogs?
An insurance would pay for the costs of cancer therapy. Based on cancer recurrence in our pets, an insurance may pay off.
- Is it correct that animals with cancer should be fed exclusively raw food?
The metabolism of a patient with advanced cancer is altered. Cancer cells need large amounts of energy, especially in form of carbohydrates. In our opinion, the most important thing is that the patients actually still eat.
If you chose a type of food that is adapted to your pet's cancer, this is fine for us. But we cannot say that this should only be raw food.