Cancer and Your Pet

There are few words that strike more fear into us as pet parents than cancer.  At Mission Animal Hospital, we have a special interest in helping a pet with cancer, and we will work with you as partners every step of your journey through pet cancer diagnosis and treatment.

HOW DO WE KNOW IT’S CANCER?

The diagnosis of pet cancer is made by finding abnormal cells in a tissue or blood sample.  Although there are times that we at Mission Animal Hospital can make that diagnosis while you wait, most commonly we will send suspicious samples off to our pathology lab for review.   This pathology review will usually take 3-4 business days, and we’ll give you a call as soon as we get the results.

HOW DO WE KNOW WHETHER MY PET”S CANCER HAS SPREAD?

Benign tumors may enlarge, but don’t spread elsewhere.  If your pet has been diagnosed with a malignancy, then the next step is to determine whether that cancer has spread within your pet’s body.  The original biopsy will help guide that decision, as some types of tumors just spread locally while others can spread to local lymph nodes or the lungs.  We will rely upon blood tests, ultrasound, and radiographs to help us.

HOW CAN WE TREAT MY PET’S CANCER?

There are six general forms of pet cancer treatment, detailed below.   There is, however, no RIGHT answer for every pet and every family.  Instead, we at Mission Animal Hospital will work with you to determine what IS best for your family, and then guide you through that journey.

A) INTEGRATIVE CANCER TREATMENT:  EVERY PET WITH CANCER WILL BENEFIT FROM CURCUMIN, FISH OIL, AND HERBAL THERAPY.  It’s just a fact, and we can prove it to you.

B) METRONOMIC THERAPY:  Because traditional chemotherapy relies on intermittent administration of very high doses of injectable drugs, our family pets are prone to the same negative side effects– nausea and vomiting, for example– as human chemotherapy patients.  How can we minimize those miserable side effects?  By giving much smaller doses at home on a daily basis, usually in pill form.  This is known as metronomic therapy, and it is a brand new concept in the field of cancer treatment.  Metronomic therapy has been proven to retard tumor growth by limiting blood vessel spread, and the best news is that it can be given… at home…. by you…. usually without side effects.  At Mission Animal Hospital, we know more about metronomic therapy than any other clinic in the area…. and we will partner with you.

C) IMMUNE THERAPY:  One of the huge problems in cancer treatment– for humans or pets– is that cancer usually masks itself so that our immune system cannot attack it.  This is because– unlike bacteria or viruses– our cancer cells generally look like our own normal cells.  But there ARE some differences, and some pretty smart folks are now taking advantage of that.  By targeting the abnormal parts of the cell wall, we can enlist our own immune system in finding and killing cancer cells.    The result?  Now we can VACCINATE our pets against many forms of cancer— not preventing it, but rather using such vaccines as another form of cancer treatment.  By enlisting our own immune system, we are minimizing the growth and spread of cancer… usually without side effects.  How cool is that?   We at Mission Animal Hospital have taken special training which enables us to partner with you in the immune therapy of your pet with cancer.

D)  SURGERY:  Many types of cancer can be solved through complete surgical removal of the cancer.  It’s not rocket science to understand that the earlier this surgery occurs, the smaller the tumor and the better our chances.

E) TRADITIONAL CHEMOTHERAPY:  As your partners in your pet’s health care, we will discuss whether traditional chemotherapy is right for you and your family.  If it is, we’ll work with veterinary cancer specialists to fine tune a program for your pet’s needs. Many times we can treat your pet here at Mission Animal Hospital, rather than your having to travel out of the area.

F) RADIATION THERAPY:  Some types of cancer respond quite well to radiation therapy.  Having said this, you should understand that radiation therapy typically requires both repeated anesthesia and road trips to the Bay or SoCal areas.  We can get you all the details. 

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER?  We’re Mission Animal Hospital, and we will help your family however we can.