"Dr. DeRegis and the techs were excellent, and I'm very fussy about my animals' care. Dr. DeRegis clearly knows what she's doing and was wonderful with Sophie. I feel very comfortable with her caring for Sophie, who has leukemia."Hilary C.
Oncology is the study of cancer. As with humans, cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases in companion animals. Receiving a diagnosis of cancer for your beloved pet can be frightening – fortunately, due to recent progress in the field of veterinary oncology, a cancer diagnosis doesn't mean that there are no options.
Instead, cancer is currently viewed as a chronic disease that can be managed - much like how heart or kidney disease is managed - thanks to advances in the development of more effective treatments and decreased side effects for your pet.
If your pet has been diagnosed with cancer, your primary care veterinarian may refer you to see Pieper Veterinary's oncology department. Veterinarians who focus on oncology have graduated rigorous training programs and are experts in the study and treatment of cancer. Your oncologist will focus on the treatment of your pet’s cancer and work together with your primary care veterinarian and other specialists for the complete management of all your pet’s conditions.
Common signs of cancer:
- Lumps on the body or lymph nodes
- Behavior change or lethargy
- Unexplained weight loss
- Decreased appetite
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Increased thirst and urination
Cancer treatment approaches:
Using drugs to kill cancer cells. Side effects from chemotherapy result when normal body cells that are rapidly dividing are also killed; this can be thought of as “collateral damage.”
Enhancing the body’s innate ability to fight cancer. A good example of the immunotherapy approach is the melanoma vaccination.
Biologic response modifiers
Modifying the behavior of cancer cells to slow or stop their growth. Several recently are “targeted” to have maximal effects on cancer cells, while sparing the normal body cells.
Also called low-dose continuous chemotherapy, the goal of this approach is to prevent angiogenesis, which is the growth of new blood vessels necessary to feed the tumor. Without an adequate blood supply, tumor growth will slow or cease.
In many cases, surgery is an essential part of cancer management. We have experienced surgeons on-site that work to manage your pet’s cancer.
Your pet’s life after cancer therapy
Most patients continue to participate in all the same activities they did before the diagnosis, and can continue to lead their normal lifestyle. Veterinary cancer treatment protocols are designed to improve the quantity AND quality of life. Unlike humans, less than 5% of chemotherapy patients will need to be hospitalized due to chemotherapy side effects. Some pets do experience side effects during chemotherapy, but these are generally mild for most patients and can be managed at home. Fatalities from complications are rare. If a protocol is not well tolerated by your pet, we will discuss adjusting or changing the protocol to ensure your pet's continued well-being. Our goal is to make the chemotherapy visits to Pieper Veterinary as pleasant and positive an experience as possible.
Working with your primary care veterinarian
Your general practice veterinarian is an important part of your pet’s health and we work as an extension of their services when advanced or after-hours treatment is necessary. We will notify your veterinarian that your pet visited our oncology service, and provide them with treatment and follow-up information to continue your pet’s care once you leave our hospital.