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!
Sue Ettinger, DVM. Dip. ACVIM (Oncology). Dr. Sue is a boarded veterinary medical cancer specialist. As a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Oncology), she is one of approximately 400 board-certified veterinary specialists in medical oncology in North America. She is a book author, radio co-host, and an advocate of early cancer detection and raising cancer awareness. Along with Dr. Demian Dressler, Dr. Sue is the co-author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity.
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