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Treating Cancer in Dogs and Cats

Published on November 25, 2021.
Last Updated November 25, 2021.
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Cancer in dogs and cats is one of the most common conditions affecting our pets during their lifetime. But what actually is cancer? What can you do if your pet has cancer? Our pets have a better chance of being successfully treated for cancer than ever before, thanks to early detection and advances in treatment. This is where SASH (the Small Animal Specialist Hospital) can help.

What is cancer in dogs and cats?

Like human cancer, cancer in dogs and cats is not just one disease. There are many different types, and several of these are further divided into subtypes. Cancer can affect many parts of the body, from cancers in the mouth through to cancer of the anal glands – and lots of organs and body systems in between.

The term “cancer” or “malignancy” refers to the process where abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and invade the body, first in nearby areas then possibly spreading to other areas, so early detection of cancer is critical.

How do I know if my pet has cancer?

There are 10 early warning signs of cancer that are explained in the video below.

The only way to confirm if your cat or dog has cancer is to visit your vet, who will conduct an initial examination and assessment. Your vet may then refer you to a specialist oncologist veterinarian, trained specifically to have additional skills in detecting and treat cancer.

Referring as early as possible to SASH can be beneficial, as early treatment is always better than late. Since cancer is such a complex set of diseases, it is comforting to know your loved one is in the hands of a team of experts.

How can SASH help with treating cancer in dogs and cats?

A diagnosis of cancer in a beloved family member can be devastating – at SASH, we realise this more than anyone. Our oncology team of world class experts work with our other specialist teams to address each pet’s needs, and we offer a complete suite of in-house services, including:

  • Medical Oncology – interpretation of diagnostic information and treatment of cancer with medical therapies such as chemotherapy;
  • Radiation Oncology – treatment of cancer with radiation;
  • Surgical Oncology – tumour removal and reconstructive procedures;
  • Radiology – diagnostic imaging to assist with cancer diagnostics and detect spread
  • Pathology – examination and testing of body tissues and bodily fluids to assist with cancer diagnostics and management
  • Anaesthesia – specialists that oversee anaesthetics and pain relief
  • 24-hour Critical Care – providing lifesaving care to patients with life threatening conditions

How is cancer diagnosed?

Diagnosis techniques vary depending on the type of cancer suspected and may include:

  • Biopsy, in which a sample of tissue is taken from the tumour so it can be examined under the microscope – this can be either with a needle, with a scalpel or via surgery. Some types of biopsy can determine the internal architecture of a tumour and its severity;
  • Blood tests;
  • Radiography, such as an X-ray, CT or ultrasound.
  • A detailed diagnosis is the only way to develop a personalised treatment plan for your pet.

What treatments are available?

With today’s technology, cancer does not have to mean a death sentence – we have treatment options that could extend the life of your pet with cancer.

SASH is one of Australia’s leading specialist hospitals and is one of only two facilities that can provide on-site, state-of-the-art radiation therapy. We have also been involved in advances such as targeted chemotherapy and pioneering immunotherapy, which helps the body to fight cancer. Our Oncologists may recommend one or a combination of treatments, including surgery.

We are here to help you make decisions that are best for your loved one and we can provide the best possible chance of either successfully treating your pet or extending their life (and quality of life) so you can enjoy each other for a little longer.

About the Author

Jerry Liu

Veterinarian
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SASH is home to some of Australia’s leading specialists and veterinary experts. If you have any concerns about your pet, please get in touch with us.

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The purpose of this valuable resource is to act as a practical guide to assist general practitioners to diagnose cancer earlier, provide more accurate information to clients.

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