At VCA Sacramento Veterinary Referral Center we understand how stressful it is when your pet has been diagnosed with cancer, and you are suddenly confronted with decisions you will need to make with respect to your pets health care. When considering all of the courses of action you can take for your pet, one important option is radiation therapy, depending upon the type of cancer. As in treatment for human cancers, radiation therapy has been found to be one of the most effective tools used to combat the disease. At VCA Sacramento Veterinary Referral Center, we use a Linear Accelerator in conjunction with a computerized treatment planning system to provide precise, individualized radiation therapy that conforms to the exact needs of each patient.
Why Radiation Therapy Improves Quality of Life for Pets and Their Owners?
Just as in human medicine, here at VCA Sacramento Veterinary Referral Center we use a Linear Accelerator which allows us to direct radiation to smaller and tighter fields so that treatment is localized to the affected area and healthy tissue is not damaged. Radiation Therapy works by damaging the DNA within cancer cells and destroying their ability to reproduce. Radiation, at levels thousands of times higher than for routine radiograph, is beamed directly at a targeted area and administered in a series of small doses over several weeks. Veterinary radiation oncologists may use radiation to try to cure cancer or control its growth, or to relieve symptoms, such as pressure, pain, or bleeding.
When Is Radiation Therapy Used?
Radiation therapy is used for tumors that have not spread to other areas of the body; sometimes it can result in a cure for these localized tumors. Radiation therapy is used to treat cancers that are not affected by chemotherapy. Radiation can be used to shrink tumors prior surgery. It can also be employed after surgery to ensure that any remaining cancer cells are destroyed.
What Kinds of Cancers Respond Well to Radiation Therapy?
- Oral tumors
- Tumors within the nasal cavity
- Brain tumors
- Small skin tumors
- Lymphoma (palliation)
- Osteosarcoma (palliation)
How Long Does Radiation Treatment Take?
The course of your pet's radiation therapy will depend on the particular cancer, the health of your pet, and the treatment plan that your veterinary team has developed. In general, radiation therapy is given in a series of 15 to 20 daily treatments spanning over a period of 3 to 4 weeks. Each treatment typically lasts from 5 to 15 minutes. With anesthesia recovery time, your pet will be at the hospital for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. No matter what the schedule, you can be sure it has been carefully planned by a veterinarian who specializes in radiation therapy, also known as the radiation oncologist. In most cases, radiation treatment is performed as an outpatient procedure.
For any additional questions regarding radiation therapy, please feel free to call us or download our FAQ: Radiation Oncology Information Sheet.
Meet our Radiation Oncologist