The VCA Advanced Veterinary Care Center Oncology Service focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in companion animals. The diagnosis of cancer in your pet is stressful and challenging. At VCA AVCC we work with owners and families to develop treatment plans that incorporate state of the art medical care with family needs. The goal of our service is to provide our patients with the best possible quality of life, and to work with families to manage this challenging condition. The Oncology Service offers cancer consultations, procedures such as bone marrow aspiration and tissue biopsy, and treatments including chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Referrals are available for radiation therapy.

Quality of life

Canine and feline patients treated for cancer generally have a good quality of life, with fewer side effects and complications as compared to their human counterparts. The goal in veterinary oncology is not necessarily to treat the cancer as aggressively as possible. Instead, the focus is on giving your pet a good to excellent quality of life for as long as possible. Only around 10% of all chemotherapy patients will show side effects, such as vomiting or diarrhea, during the course of therapy. We will monitor your pet closely for side effects during the course of treatment, and we will tailor a protocol that is effective and minimizes the risk of side effects. While chemotherapy side effects do happen in pets, we strive to minimize the risk while still effectively treating the cancer. It is important to let us know if your pet experiences any side effects during treatment. The side effects may be subtle, such as decreased interest in food, but this should still be noted and brought to our attention.

Chemotherapy Treatment

Chemotherapy patients are treated every day except for Sunday. Treatments generally last from a couple of minutes up to 20 minutes. Occasionally protocols call for drugs to be administered over several hours, but this will be discussed prior to administration. Prior to each treatment your pet will have laboratory tests done to ensure that she is healthy enough for chemotherapy on that day. When a chemotherapy treatment is administered your pet will receive a small injection with a needle that contains the chemotherapy drug. This procedure is no more traumatic or painful than having ones blood drawn. The entire chemotherapy appointment takes approximately 90 minutes from start to finish. Occasionally patients will require light sedation as part of the chemotherapy process. If this is the case for your pet it is important to remember to not feed him or her on the morning of chemotherapy. Also remember that if your pet is sedated he or she may be a little groggy for 6 to12 hours after the chemotherapy visit. However most patients are treated without any sedation.