Expert Cancer CARE
As a part of your Consultation, you will receive an written Optimal OUTCOME Care GuideTM. This guide is created by the Veterinary Medical Oncologist who reviews your pet’s history, conducts their physical examination, and diagnoses their condition. Based on the findings, the Optimal OUTCOME Care GuideTM will present at least two recommended Treatment Options, each with prognoses, schedule and cost details. Our specialist will take the time to review and compare the Treatment Options with you and answer all your questions so that you can make Informed Decisions about your pet’s wellbeing and arrive at a Care Plan that you feel good about.
Though the specifics are uniquely defined for every individual case, your Care Plan will likely involve one or more of four main cancer treatment modes – surgery, chemical therapy, traditional radiation therapy and stereotactic radiation therapy. If you decide to pursue treatment, your Medical Oncologist will supervise all aspects of your Care Plan and ensure all treatment modes utilized are seamlessly integrated. Take a moment to learn about these treatments, and about how our standard of CARE in providing them leads to Optimal OUTCOMES for our Clients and Animal Patients.
In-House Specialization & Treatment Integration Ensures Expert CARE
Four MAIN Treatment Specialties
Surgery to physically remove accessible cancer is often included in chosen Care Plans assuming the cancer has not spread to multiple areas within the body. It can be used to collect cancer cells for diagnostic biopsy, reduce the size of a tumor, and/or even cure cancer when wide border margins can be achieved. The Medical Oncologist conducting your Consultation will consult with our in-house surgical team when developing Treatment Options which include surgery, and if you go forward with that option, can facilitate a meeting with the surgeon in advance so all your questions are answered.
Chemotherapy “protocols” (specific drug combinations administered in a prescribed manner on a defined schedule) are designed by your Medical Oncologist for your pet’s unique condition. Alone, or in combination with surgery and/or radiation to delay, reduce or prevent metastasis (cancer spread), chemotherapy is common, highly effective, and generally very well tolerated in animals. In cases where remission is not likely, less aggressive chemotherapy protocols can often be used as palliative care to significantly alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.
Radiation Therapy – Conventional
Conventional Radiation is the use of a single targeted 3D x-ray beam to kill cancer cells and/or prevent their growth and division. It is very effective at treating, and even curing some cancers, and can be used in several ways as part of your pet’s Care Plan: before surgery (to shrink tumors), as a substitute for surgery (e.g., when cancer is inaccessible), after surgery (to eliminate residual cancer cells and/or slow regrowth), or in a less intensive/less frequent protocol to provide palliative care – sometimes in combination with chemotherapy. It is typically administered in smaller doses or “fractions” over multiple daily sessions – based on cancer type – to achieve the cumulative radiation dose prescribed and to better control the cancer while minimizing effects on healthy tissue.
Radiation Therapy – Stereotactic
We are proud to be known for our expert use of Stereotactic Radiation – a highly advanced technology used in human cancer care – which utilizes multiple x-ray beam angles to maximize radiation at the target while limiting the dose along any individual beam path through healthy tissue. In addition, it even more precisely distinguishes the cancerous 3D target from surrounding normal tissues to avoid unintended exposure, and can administer radiation faster – minimizing time under anesthetic and total treatment time. Many believe the far fewer sessions (only 1-3), less incidental exposure, reduced side effects, and shorter treatment sessions of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) or therapy (SRT) is well worth the additional cost over conventional radiation.
Monitoring and Maintenance
As will be indicated in your Care Plan, throughout treatment your pet will be monitored via examination, lab testing, and/or imaging visuals to interpret their comfort and responsiveness, and we will make Care Plan adjustments (eg., medicines, dosages, schedule, etc.) along the way if appropriate. Our deep experience in cancer care is of critical value in doing so, as our oncologists use their shared expertise, skills, teamwork and up-to-date industry knowledge – not standardized formulas – to optimize outcomes after care has begun. When your pet’s main treatment is completed, there will also be a follow-up plan to maintain their health, comfort and well-being.
Yes. Immunotherapy is using the body’s own immune system or natural defenses against cancer cells. This is generally done by encouraging the body to make antibodies against the tumor cells (vaccine therapy) or by giving the antibodies directly to the animal (monoclonal antibody therapy). We sometimes administer immunotherapy as the sole treatment; other times it may be combined with surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation.
Both dogs and cats get cancer, and with a frequency that is on the rise. We use the same general treatment modes for their care, and both dogs and cats usually tolerate and recover from treatment well, typically with very little or no side effects from chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Dogs and cats have about the same success outcomes after treatment, and relative similarities in quality and longevity of life benefits.
There are some differences, however, between the species in the prevalence of cancer, the types and most common cancers, the speed of cancer growth, and the rate of research and innovation in cancer treatment protocols. About 50% of dogs over 10 years of age will be diagnosed with cancer and about 32% of cats. The most common cancer for dogs is skin cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes), with lymphoma the most common in cats. Though cancer does occur more frequently in dogs, it tends to grow more aggressively in cats which may be one reason why there has historically been more experience, research, medical innovation and application in cancer care for dogs than in cats to date.
One of the most important values we bring to your pet’s cancer care is the integrated knowledge and expertise of all our in-house veterinary oncologists. Thus, once a Care Plan has been designed specifically for your pet, we all know what to watch for, and what to expect upon its implementation. If responsiveness is not as anticipated, we will know if adjustments are warranted, and just how to best make them. Of course, you will always be kept fully informed of any recommended treatment adjustments, and will be advised in advance if they affect your financial terms in any way. In the rare case where a recommendation is made to cease treatment, or for whatever reason you decide against its continuation, you will not be financially responsible for expenses ACCC has not yet incurred.
If for whatever reason you decide not to treat your pet’s cancer in hopes to achieve a cure or remission, there are still many ways to address the quality, comfort, and often longevity of your pet’s remaining weeks or months with you. “Palliative” radiation, chemotherapy, and/or simple medicinal protocols are much less intensive care regimens – and far less costly – which can be administered with ease to relieve pain, protect against infection, reduce inflammation and keep your pet feeling well as long as possible. Often this type of care can be administered by your family veterinarian. Rest assured, at your Consultation with us you will receive guidance toward an Optimal OUTCOME which incorporates the needs of both you and your beloved pet.