November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month
Did you know that cancer accounts for nearly 50% of disease-related deaths in pets each year? In fact, of the estimated 75 million dogs and 85 million cats in the United States, roughly 6 million pets will be diagnosed with cancer. Studies have found that approximately 1 in 4 dogs and 1 in 5 cats will develop cancer during their lifetime. And because pet cancer is one of the leading causes of disease-related death for our pets, every May and November is dedicated to Pet Cancer Awareness.
We hope this post will provide you with information about pet cancer and what to expect if your pet is diagnosed.
What are the early signs of cancer in pets?
Due to the many different types of cancers, there is wide range of signs and symptoms that your pet can exhibit. However, some of the most common signs of cancer to look for in your pets include:
- Lumps and bumps
- Abnormal odors
- Abnormal discharges
- Non-healing wounds
- Weight loss
- Change in appetite
- Coughing or difficulty breathing
- Lethargy or depression
- Changes in bathroom habits
- Evidence of pain
To read more about each sign listed above, visit PetMD’s “Top Ten Signs of Cancer in Pets” article.
If your pet exhibits any of these symptoms, please contact your primary care veterinarian right away.
What happens if my pet is diagnosed with cancer?
Just as in human healthcare, the first step before determining treatment is to go through the diagnosis and staging process.
Diagnosis – This step will confirm the specific type of cancer your pet has
Staging – This step establishes the extent of the cancer—if it has spread (metastasized).
The tests involved in diagnosis and staging may include the following:
- Needle aspiration
- Blood work
- Diagnostic imaging
After determining which type and what stage of cancer your pet has, your veterinarian will determine which treatment option will be best.
How is pet cancer treated?
Many treatments and therapies to treat cancer in pets do NOT have the same side effects as they do in people. Due to the lower dosages that pets receive, there are significantly fewer side effects, and most pets tolerate treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy well.
Treatment options will depend on the type of cancer and may be done alone or in combination:
- Radiation therapy
- Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)
How does Animal Surgical Clinic of Seattle treat pets with cancer?
As board-certified surgeons, we work together with primary care veterinarians and board-certified specialists in internal medicine and oncology to treat pets with cancer. After your pet’s cancer has been diagnosed and staged, your primary care veterinarian may refer you to a board-certified surgeon for surgical removal of the cancer.
Surgical intervention is often the best route for the treatment of cancerous tumors. One of our doctors, Kristin Kirkby Shaw, DVM, MS, PhD, DACVS, DACVSMR, a member of the Veterinary Society of Surgical Oncology (VSSO), is a board-certified surgeon who specializes in soft tissue surgeries—the most common procedure for patients with cancerous masses. All surgeons at ASCS are experienced in surgical removal, including (but not limited to) osteosarcomas, mast cell tumors, liver and splenic masses, and other internal cancerous mass removals.
In addition to surgery, we take great care in assuring that we address and control the pain related to cancer, both during a patient’s surgery and stay with us and as the pet returns home for recovery.
Many local oncologists and pathologists work in collaboration with Seattle-based oncologic research group, Presage Biosciences, on their canine studies to gain insight into treatment options for future cancer cases. A number of ASCS patients have qualified for these case studies.
How do I prevent cancer in my pet?
While there is no definitive cause of cancer in pets, you can take steps to reduce the risk of cancer in your furry family member:
- Schedule annual wellness checkups with your primary care veterinarian, and twice-yearly checkups if your pet is older.
- Check for any lumps and bumps on your pet’s body frequently. If you notice a lump, contact your primary care veterinarian immediately.
- Help your pet maintain a healthy weight.
- Protect your pet from sunburns to prevent melanoma—especially for pets with short fur.
- Reduce environmental risks like secondhand smoke, pesticides, cleansers with harsh chemicals, etc.
Help #CurePetCancer – Post a photo!
During this month, Nationwide is teaming up with Animal Care Foundation to help #CurePetCancer. Upload a photo of your furry friend with hashtag #CurePetCancer to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram during the month of November, and Nationwide will donate $5 to the Animal Care Foundation!
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Posted November 12, 2015 by ASCS in Pet Health with No Comments and tagged as #curepetcancer, animal surgical clinic of seattle, cancer in animals, dr. kristin shaw, november pet cancer month, pet cancer, pet cancer awareness month, treatment options for cancer
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