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Comprehensive Cancer Care for Pets at Gulf Coast Veterinary Services

When your pet receives a cancer diagnosis, you want to do all you can to provide the best medical care possible. We understand how scary and overwhelming cancer can be, and our team of board-certified veterinary oncologists is here to provide support and compassion, along with the most advanced diagnostic and treatment options available. We believe in presenting every option, and allowing you to choose the plan that best fits your pet’s needs. Because we have the most innovative therapies available, we can combine several different treatment methods for the best chance of a successful cure, or cancer management. 


Surgery for pets with cancer

If your pet has a cancerous tumor, surgical excision may be an option. While some tumors can be completely cured with surgery, others may invade local tissue or bone, and complete excision may not be possible. A tumor’s size, location, and type will determine whether complete excision, or only partial removal, is possible. If partial resection is the best option, the remaining cancer can often be treated with radiation or chemotherapy. GCVS’s oncology and surgery teams collaborate to provide the best treatment plan for every pet.   

Chemotherapy for pets with cancer

  GCVS Cancer Care for Pets Chemotherapy involves treating cancer with medications that target rapidly dividing cells, and is part of many cancer treatment plans. Chemotherapy often is combined with surgery, immunotherapy, or radiation, but can also be used alone when surgery is not possible, or when cancer has metastasized throughout the body. Pet chemotherapy differs from human chemotherapy in that pets typically do not suffer debilitating side effects, such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or hair loss. For those who do experience side effects, medications can keep them feeling good throughout the treatment period. Some chemotherapy treatments must be administered in-hospital by injection, but you can give your pet many of the oral medications at home.

Immunotherapy for pets with cancer

Immunotherapy uses a pet’s own immune system to fight off cancer by stimulating or sensitizing it to the offending cells. For example, the canine melanoma vaccine can be administered as part of a treatment plan for dogs with oral melanoma. Other forms of immunotherapy, such as multiplying antibodies that have been programmed to target cancer cells, are on the horizon for use in pets.

Radiation therapy for pets with cancer

Radiation therapy uses a high-energy beam to damage cancer cell DNA. Radiation can be used to shrink tumors prior to surgical excision, treat inoperable tumors, or treat what remains of a partially excised tumor. Radiation can also be used as part of a palliative care plan for a pet whose cancer has no cure, to manage pain, and prevent or slow cancer growth. GCVS is proud to have a Varian Halcyon Linear Accelerator, equipped with stereotactic radiation therapy, which is the most advanced radiation unit available for human or veterinary use. Stereotactic radiation delivers a precisely focused radiation beam that specifically targets cancerous tissue, and spares nearby normal organs and tissues. With this state-of-the-art instrument, we can administer radiation treatments in a fraction of the time compared with a traditional unit, thereby reducing the time your pet must spend in the hospital. It also allows us to perform stereotactic radiosurgery, which is a noninvasive, nonsurgical treatment for localized cancer. Instead of removing cancerous tissue with a scalpel, the precisely focused radiation beam, guided by 3D imaging, is used to target cancer in the brain and spinal cord, as well as other body locations. This new therapy has been highly successful in human cancer treatment, and offers new hope to pets with previously untreatable cancers.

Palliative care for pets with cancer

Sadly, not every pet’s cancer is treatable. When curative-intent cancer treatment is not pursued, palliative care may be recommended. Palliative care focuses on treating the patient’s symptoms, rather than the cancer itself, with the goal of improving or maintaining the patient’s comfort and quality of life as they near the end. Palliative care may include medications to address pain, nausesa, or decreased appetite; radiation therapy; modifications to the patient’s diet or environment; and alternative therapies.  If you are struggling with a pet’s cancer diagnosis, or want to discuss advanced treatment options, contact us. Our oncology department would be honored to work with your primary veterinarian to develop a comprehensive cancer treatment plan for your pet.

Aug 8