Cancer Resource Center

What is Cancer

Cancer is NOT... a death sentence.  Hearing that your pet has cancer is a devastating experience. You and your family need to be able to make informed decisions about what is best for your pet. The doctors and nurses at The Veterinary Cancer Center (The VCC) have expertise in veterinary oncology and are here to help you make the right decisions.

The advances in the detection and treatment of cancer for both pets and humans have been significant. A diagnosis of cancer in your pet is not a "death sentence." Using the latest treatments we can extend the quality and duration of your pet's life.

Cancer is; however, the number one natural cause of death in older cats and dogs. It accounts for nearly 50 percent of pet deaths each year. Although cancer is the leading cause of death in older pets, it is also one of the most treatable compared with diseases like heart failure or kidney failure. As with humans, there have been amazing advances in the treatment of cancer that can provide your pet with a high quality of life for years to come.

One of the first steps your veterinarian will take is to recommend a team from inside their practice and an outside cancer specialist, a veterinary oncologist, to create a total program of expert care. The specialist is not a competitor of your primary vet. They are an expert outside resource who can help the team achieve the best possible level of care. When the recommended therapy is complete, your pet will be returned to the care of your primary vet. The shared goal is simple. Together we can build a program of compassionate, expert care to ensure that your pet lives as long as possible and is free from the adverse affects of both the cancer and the therapy.

The VCC wants to insure that you and your pet are treated in the most compassionate manner to try and alleviate stress at this very emotional time. We also honor the very important relationship between you, your pet and your primary veterinarian to insure that all parties are kept up-to-date regarding your pet’s condition. There is strength in knowledge and by working together we can insure the best possible care for your pet.

All of our protocols are customized specifically for your pet to provide the best treatment and quality of life possible.

The VCC emphasizes the treatment of not only the cancer, but also of you and your pet. We strive to treat you and your pet in the most compassionate and comprehensive manner possible.

How did my pet get cancer?

The cause of cancer in pets, just like in people, is largely unknown. There are certain breeds that tend to get certain types of cancers more often than others, such as large and giant breed dogs who get bone tumors. There are also environmental factors, such as exposure to the sun, which may be associated with increased incidence of cancer. Unfortunately, not enough is known about the cause of cancer to prevent it.

Are pet cancer and human cancer the same?

Most of the cancers we see in dogs and cats are almost identical to the cancers that affect people. They are similar when we look at their biological behavior-how the cancer behaves in the body, what organs it metastasizes (spreads) to, how quickly or slowly the cancer tends to grow. The cancers are also similar in regard to the molecular defects that are the underlying reason for the cell to become malignant or cancerous. They are also comparable at the genetic level - the more we know about the genes involved in both human and veterinary cancers, the more we realize that the same genes are involved.

The difference between veterinary and human oncology lies in the philosophy of treatment. We at The VCC place the ultimate emphasis on quality of life along with a strong emphasis on trying to “cure’ your pet of its disease. We do not believe in putting your pet through the same level of side effects that people undergoing cancer therapy endure. We believe this because pets have a much more compressed lifespan than humans. Our goal is to insure that your pet has the best quality of life for the longest possible time. There may be some side effects to the therapy, but our goal is the make sure that your pet enjoys its life for as long as it is viable. We are here to guide you in your decision-making, so that you understand the best treatment options.

Conversely, we still do everything possible to give your pet the longest achievable survival time. The recommendations of the doctors at The VCC reflect a balance between quality and quantity of life.