Cancer in our Pets

By Dr. Vanessa Vandersande

Cancer is among our generation’s most terrible types of disease. I dearly look forward to advancements that wipe out this plague but many misconceptions currently exist. I often hear from clients, “Well if it is cancer, we aren’t going to do chemotherapy or anything extreme.” I understand this sentiment. Human cancer treatment can be frightening, grueling, and unbearably painful. However, treatment for cancer in animals can be very different.

Our goal in human medicine is to save the person’s life, no matter what. In pets, our goal can be different if that is the path we choose. For my animals, that has been my choice-namely to bring as much comfort as I can for as long as I can. I believe many of my clients have the same goal.

The best kind of cancer is the kind that can be completely removed, such as a single skin tumor. It is a wonderful thing to cure cancer with a single surgery.

The second situation is a malignant mass that can be removed but may have spread into the bloodstream. My senior dog had such a cancer. It was removed and she received a kind of chemotherapy to eradicate it from her system. The chemotherapy actually made her feel good-she became more active during treatment and has been cancer free for two years. You can find her photo on our website, enjoying her life.

A third situation would be a cancer that can’t be completely removed may be widespread in the body. Unfortunately, Dr Land’s cat suffers from this. He has been on and off chemotherapy drugs for a year and a half with the goal of keeping him comfortable and he is doing well.

The good news is that we have many drugs that can support our pets and make sure they have mostly good days until the end. Many options exist and as veterinarians, it is our job to support you and your pet through the entire journey. I had one beloved cat I lost to cancer who made me the vet I am today. You will find her pictures on our website too. Her memory will last with me forever. We achieved our goal with her by bringing as much comfort to her as possible for as long as possible. If you have any questions about your pet and cancer please contact us at Copper Hill Animal Clinic, we can help.