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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Staying on the cutting edge of veterinary oncology

Updated: May 15th, 2024

I’ll be honest; this blog is a little bit hard for me to write. I am not my typical focused self. I am preparing to leave for Paris for a week with my husband. While I would prefer the trip to be entirely vacation, half the trip will be devoted to veterinary oncology. (I know I am not getting any sympathy for going to Paris in the name of veterinary cancer.)

You may not be aware, but veterinarians routinely attend continuing education (CE) conferences. In some states it is a requirement for your veterinarian license. Even in states where it is not, most vets go to CE. It is a way to review diseases, diagnostics and treatments, and importantly, to stay current with new advances in veterinary medicine.

There are local conferences that vets can attend once a month (typically in the evening after work) or they can travel to a large national conference, probably once a year. Most conferences are directed to the general practitioner – your family veterinarian – and they cover a wide array of topics.

Veterinary oncologists often attend the annual Veterinary Cancer Society (VCS) conference in the fall.  VCS was formed in 1976 by a small group of veterinarians who wanted to establish a professional organization dedicated to veterinary oncology. Today there are over 800 members that include specialists in medical oncology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, internal medicine, and pathology.

At the annual meeting, I meet up with colleagues, resident-mates, and friends to see what is new in veterinary oncology. The meeting is predominantly research abstracts. This means the research presentations are interim analyses of studies that are ongoing or recently completed but not yet published. Since journal publication can take time, this allows me as an oncologist to be on the cutting edge, so I can offer my patients the newest diagnostics and treatments to treat their pets.

I have attended these meetings since my internship. During my residency, I presented my clinical research each year. The first year was on vaccine associated sarcomas in cats and then on canine soft tissue sarcomas the second year. Our research presentation was judged and critiqued by the top oncologists in the field.  Can you imagine how terrifying it would be to present your research to over 400 oncologists? Next year I hope to be presenting on Apocaps, which I started working with while authoring The Dog Cancer Survival Guide with Dr. D.

It is not always logistically easy to attend these meetings. I am away from work and my patients for a few days. I am away from my family too. But these meetings are important to stay sharp and current for the dogs and cats I treat.  I think being a great oncologist is a combination of great training and education, day to day experience, and staying current in this rapidly changing field.

The Paris trip is to attend 2nd World Veterinary Cancer Congress. This is a joint meeting of VCS with the European Society of Veterinary Oncology. While I am excited for the Eiffel Tower, the art, the baguettes and the cheese, I am also excited to catch up on the latest in veterinary cancer with European colleagues.

In my next blog, I will tell you all about the trip. Until then, au revior!

Leave a Comment

  1. dawn on March 17, 2012 at 5:51 am

    What are your thoughts on an alkaline based pet food. ?

  2. Danielle on March 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    A friend of mine is having her dog treated at a center in Wappingers Falls NY for canine lymphoma. They have a new Telomerase Vaccine and also offer Electrochemotherapy that is only boing done over seas. Do you know anything about this treatment? This seems pretty cutting edge to me! Any info would be great.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on March 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      Still relatively new treatment options – hard to comment yet. That’s the hard part with new treatment options – info can be limited. Good luck to your friend’s dog!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  3. Penny S on March 14, 2012 at 3:47 am

    I am new to this blog and just finished The Dog Cancer Survival Guide book. Amazing book full of vital information… have been recommending it to all my pet owner friends. Praying your trip will bring about some cutting edge info on Nasal Tumors. My girl was diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma in November 2011……that kind of news is nothing short of devastating! Safe travels and enjoy Paris.

  4. Diane Barnhart on March 8, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Would be interested in any information you might hear about Are Thoresen DVM from Norway and his research re his one point acupuncture protocol for canine cancer. I understand this is a conventional oncology conference – but – you just might hear something. Thanks – enjoy Paris 🙂

  5. Jeannette Botza on March 8, 2012 at 10:32 am


  6. Mary Emmons on March 8, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Can’t wait to hear what you have learned from your trip. Have a safe and fun time!

  7. Deb kelly on March 8, 2012 at 6:26 am

    I am a constant follower of this newsletter and am always curious about nutrition and how the bodies natural immune system can beat this disease. My dog Callie is a stage III Mast Cell Tumor survivor. She went through four vinblastine treatments and then we stopped the treatments and went holistically with diet. No carbohydrates, fish oil and Cottage cheese 1%, home steamed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and peppers) twice daily plus low cooked liver. It will be eleven months that she is in remission she takes daily her pregnisone, benadryl, pepcid. Was it the chemo or diet and or additional medication who knows really? All I know prayers and the diet have helped, I am not a fan of chemotherapy or anything unnatural. Keep me updated on any new findings on this type of cancer for I would like her to live her senior years happily and as healthy as she can be! Thank you for your time in reading this and keep up the research for our four legged friends thank you too!

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on March 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm

      Thanks very much Deb! Good luck in this journey.
      Dr D

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