One of the biggest hurdles we face at The Veterinary Cancer Center is that most people associate cancer treatment in people with cancer treatment in pets. Witnessing a friend or a family member undergoing cancer treatment; even watching an episode of House will leave even the most optimistic person with a false and preconceived notion of what to expect in regards to cancer therapy in pets.
When my own dog was diagnosed with malignant histiocytosis I was immediately emotionally hijacked by my personal experiences with how my family members handled their cancer therapies. As a co-owner of The VCC, the doctors here still needed to remind me both intellectually and emotionally of how well pets handle cancer treatment.
Since cats and dogs have a limited life span (compared to people) the primary goals is not to cure the cancer, but to significantly slow it down. This not only gives them more time, but also gives them a higher quality of life… Even during treatment!
We do this by giving lower treatment doses then they do in humans (sometimes over longer periods of time) as well as treating the symptoms prophylactically. Many pets never show symptoms of either the disease or the treatment of disease. It’s truly amazing how well most pets do!
The other fact is that many pet owners and local veterinarians might not know all the amazing and novel therapies that have become available over the last few years. With the mapping of the genome, personalized medication, Radiation Therapy using IMRT, and the latest discovery regarding junk DNA, we are on the forefront of really making a difference when it comes to not only the treatment of pets with cancer, but for us humans as well.
Most people make emotional decisions every single day; it’s part of what makes us human. But I believe that one should never base a decision on fear or a lack of understanding. Always get the facts before making decisions about your pet’s health. The truth might surprise you…