Radiation is a big gun in dog cancer therapy. There are many out there that would not even consider it….to hardcore, too scary. And honestly, many times they might be correct. But in some cases radiation should be at least considered.
For many it is out of the question. No nearby cancer referral center, no veterinary university, no money. But for those that live fairly close to a facility that offers this modality, it is an option.
Why do people opt for radiation for their dogs? What is the point?
Radiation is to help dogs that have cancers that are hard to cure. These cancers either never go away, or go away with treatment only temporarily. So people consider it as another way to increase their dog’s life expectancy or to hopefully improve life quality.
Radiation is used to decrease the tumor cell burden (kills certain types of cancer cells), in very few cancers can cure them. More and more frequently, it is used to help with tumor pain. If a tumor cannot be removed with surgery (inoperable), radiation can be an option as well.
What cancers are very sensitive to radiation (where radiation can kill a lot of the cancer cells)? Lymphosarcoma is a biggie, perianal adenoma/adenocarcinoma, neuroblastoma, plasmacytoma, and transmissable venereal tumor. Some other cancers that are moderately sensitive (radiation helps a bit) are nerve sheath tumors (hemangiopericytomas), fibrosarcomas, and histiocytomas.
Radiation can help control pain with osteosarcomas in dogs.
So that’s a bit of the good. Let’s look at the bad in the next blog post.
Best to all,
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.
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