Tumour diseases inevitably represent the leading cause of death in dogs and cats, and almost half of all dogs over 10 years old die of cancer. Hence oncology is becoming increasingly important part of veterinary medicine.
Contrary to the common assumption that cancer is a death sentence- an incurable disease that is accompanied by great suffering, tumour diseases are not only often treatable, but cancer is also the only potentially curable chronic disease.
The optimal goal of cancer therapy is to cure the patient. However, as this goal often cannot be reached, the restoration or the maintenance of a good quality of life with the greatest possible prolongation of life is a top priority.
Before every cancer treatment, it is essential to find out what kind of tumour it is, whether and how the tumour has spread in the body and what reasonable therapeutic options available. Only after clarification of these points a meaningful consultation can take place with regard to the prognosis of the patient and the costs incurred, which allows the pet owners to be in a position to make the best decision for themselves and their animal.
In order to select the right therapy, it is essential to identify the existing tumour. The localisation and distribution of the tumour in the body and its effects on the organism should be clarified by further tests. In addition to blood tests and imaging techniques such as X-ray and ultrasound, other tests such as endoscopy, bone marrow samples and lymph node or organ biopsies may be needed in some cases.
Once a definite diagnosis can be made, a treatment decision, taking into account the prognosis, is made together with the owner.
The oldest and still most important form of cancer treatment is surgical intervention that, if timely, can often lead to curing the patient.
In cases of systemic tumour diseases or where surgical removal is impossible or insufficient, treatment with chemotherapy may be successful.
Because chemotherapy in veterinary medicine is only able to bring about a cure in rare cases, the ultimate goal - often different than in human medicine - is maintaining a good quality of life, in addition to a prolongation of life.
Although the majority of our patients show no side effects while undergoing outpatient chemotherapy, and, in contrast, often improve their general condition during treatment, adverse effects are also possible in veterinary medicine. However, most adverse effects go away again without treatment after a short time or can often be prevented by other drugs (e.g. anti-nausea) or prolonged intervals between chemotherapy sessions. Only in rare cases, is hospitalisation of the patient or discontinuation of therapy required.