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Medical and radiation oncology focuses on the treatment of pets diagnosed with various forms of cancer, which is more prevalent in pets than most people realize. Cancer is common in middle aged and older dogs and cats, accounting for almost half of the deaths in pets over 10 years old.

Please be aware that cancer does not have to mean a death sentence for your beloved pet. Although the news may be devastating, there are many options to consider that can add quality time to your pet’s life.

Once your pet receives a diagnosis, you and your family will need to learn as much as possible about the various options available so that you will be able to make an intelligent and informed decision about what is best for your pet and your family. Our oncology department at Veterinary Specialty Center is here to walk you through those options and answer questions you may have about your pet’s diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.

What is cancer?

Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells within the body that can present as a localized tumor, multifocal tumors or systemic disease.

Tumors are divided and classified into two categories, benign or malignant. Benign tumors tend to be slower growing, are not invasive into the surrounding tissue and do not spread (metastasize). Malignant tumors tend to have more rapid growth, may invade into surrounding tissue, and may spread distantly.

Tumors are further classified by the tissue they originate from; carcinomas, sarcomas and round cells.

Early warning signs of cancer

The following signs are not specific for cancer and may occur with other disease processes as well. If your pet has any of these symptoms, your veterinarian should do a full diagnostic exam to determine what could be causing these symptoms.

  • Abnormal swelling that persists and/or continues to grow
  • Non-healing sores
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Decreased or loss of appetite
  • Bleeding or abnormal discharge from any body orifice (e.g., mouth, nose, ears, urinary tract or rectum)
  • Recent onset of a persistent offensive odor
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • Decrease or reluctance to exercise
  • Loss of stamina
  • Persistent lameness
  • Increased effort to breath, urinate or defecate