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Understanding Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy has been used in veterinary medicine since the beginning of the 20th Century, according to the Animal Cancer Foundation, but in recent years the advancement of the technology has led to more successful outcomes and reduced side effects.

At Animal Cancer Care Clinic, we offer a variety of radiation treatment options and provide each of our clients with an Optimal OUTCOMES Care Guide, specifically created for each individual pet’s unique situation.

How Does Radiation Work?

A precise beam of high-energy X-rays enables radiation to specifically target and kill cancer cells. This beam can be directed to the area of the body that contains the tumor or cancer. Like surgery, this method is typically not used to treat cancer that has spread beyond a certain region.

If Conventional Radiation Therapy is chosen as the best course of action for your pet, a full course or multiple small doses will be delivered over a three-week to one-month period. To ensure maximum damage to the cancer cells and minimal exposure to surrounding healthy tissue, our team may use sophisticated imaging, such as an MRI, Mapping CT, or 3D treatment planning. This approach enables our highly trained radiologist to pinpoint microscopic areas of concern and remove enough of the marginal areas to help prevent the cancer’s return.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) or Stereotactic Body Therapy (SBRT) is used when a more well-defined tumor is present and can be administered in fewer sessions, often one to three within a one-week timeframe. ACCC’s high-tech on-site Varian Linear Accelerator, which allows the use of multiple X-ray beam angles, enables our doctors to deliver radiation doses with extreme accuracy. Side effects are rare and often absent.

If a tumor exists within a nasal cavity or other sensitive region, Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) may be recommended. It is administered in small doses over a three-week to one-month period. Sophisticated imaging is also used in this therapy to minimize side effects and maximize accuracy.

Palliative Radiation Therapy is useful for reducing pain, inflammation and shrinking the size of the tumor or slowing its growth. An effective option for patient comfort, this therapy is given over three to five days.


Preparing your pet for radiation therapy will require following detailed instructions provided by our staff. Because of the precision of the X-ray beams used in radiation, anesthesia must be used to ensure this precision and the safety of your pet. Our anesthesia staff uses the safest and newest drugs available and carefully monitors your pet continuously throughout the process.

As with any type of cancer therapy, for both animals and humans, some side effects may occur. The most common early reactions occur in the skin. Sometimes loss of hair and reddening of the skin can result. Sometimes months or even years after the treatment, pets can experience permanent hair loss or color changes in the treatment areas. Other delayed effects from radiation, which have a less than 5% chance of developing, can include issues in such areas as bone, spinal cord, brain tissue, or lens and retina of the eye.

Your ACCC medical team will carefully review in detail all procedures, including required bloodwork, treatment preparation, and follow-up care.

For more information about radiation and other cancer treatments, visit https://animalcancercareclinic.com/care/.