If your pet has been diagnosed with cancer, your immediate priority will be discovering what treatment, if any, is available. Treating cancer in animals is not all that dissimilar to treating the condition in humans, with chemotherapy and radiotherapy both popular choices. However, in some cases, an animal will be referred for surgery either as a standalone treatment or alongside chemo/radiotherapy.
Our animal cancer care specialists will be able to advise if surgery is a viable option for your furbaby and if so, the procedure will be carried out at our modern, comfortable veterinary care facility in Westford, MA. In the meantime, here is what you need to know about cancer surgery for pets.
Exactly which type of surgery your pet will need will depend on the location and extent of their cancer and will be explained to you ahead of their procedure.
Also known as curative-intent surgery, the goal of this treatment is to remove all traces of cancer and leave your pet fully in remission. This type of surgery is normally recommended for animals that have been diagnosed with a single or multiple tumors in one location, and where there is no evidence that cancer has metastasized (spread) to another area of their body.
Also referred to as cytoreductive surgery, this variety of surgical procedure is used to remove all visible traces of the tumor/s as well. However, our veterinary team understands that there will still be microscopic tumor cells that are impossible to remove surgically which will remain behind. Whilst your pet won’t be cured, chemotherapy or radiotherapy can then be used to target these microscopic cancer cells – which are more likely to respond to these treatments than a large tumor would be. A permanent cure is unlikely, but it may be possible to keep your pet’s cancer under control indefinitely.
Very similar to cytoreductive surgery, palliative surgery is carried out with the goal of removing a tumor that is causing unpleasant symptoms so that your pet doesn’t have to suffer. In most instances, palliative surgery manages to eliminate the pain that pets with cancer experience and improve their ability to function from day-to-day. This is not a curative surgery but instead focuses on making your pet’s remaining time with you as comfortable as possible.
While these benefits do not extend to all animals in all cases, there are a number of advantages associated with using surgery to treat cancer in pets.
- Full removal of tumors can, in some cases, provide an immediate cure from the disease.
- There are no toxic or unpleasant side effects.
- Surgery does not suppress your pet’s immune system and put them at risk of other illnesses.
- Surgery doesn’t cause cancer (whereas radiotherapy and chemotherapy have actually been shown to increase the risk of your pet developing cancer).
- It is more effective on large tumors than radiotherapy or chemotherapy can be.
If your pet has been diagnosed with cancer and you would like more information about the treatments available, including surgery, our compassionate and experienced team would be delighted to offer their advice and assistance. Contact us by calling our animal care facility in Westford, MA at (978) 577-4848.