Jul
6
2016

Given the constant new research, trends, and practices in veterinary medicine related to oncology, it’s difficult for general practitioners to keep up. Now, there’s a resource to help.

Today, AAHA released its 2016 Oncology Guidelines for Dogs and Cats (“Guidelines”), a “go to” resource general practitioners can use with oncology patients.

“Our goal was to provide a ‘snapshot,’ based on general consensus, about how the general practitioner can and should approach and handle cancer,” said Guidelines Task Force chair John Berg, DVM, DACVS, and Professor of Surgery in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. “The guidelines are based largely on how cancer is approached by specialists who deal with it every day.”  

The Guidelines are broken down into 14 areas. Sections include basic diagnostic tests and staging tests, chemotherapy and its safe handling, client communication regarding cancer, surgery, radiation, and more.

Of special note are tables that outline the most common tumors in cats and dogs. These visual references include information such as tumor type, location of tumor, behavior, appropriate staging tests, treatment options, and prognosis.

“There is a trend today toward minimizing cancer in the body and holding it steady, unlike 20 years ago when the goal was to rid the body of cancer entirely,” said Berg.

A good example, according to Berg, is metronomic chemotherapy, which is given at home, orally, in daily low doses. This type of chemotherapy is thought to work by depriving tumors of their blood supply. Other new treatment options include targeted molecular therapies that prevent cancer cells from being able to divide, and palliative radiation therapy that relieves the symptoms but doesn’t necessarily kill the cancer.

“None of the above new treatment options mean we’ve moved away from the ‘kill the cancer’ school of thought,” said Berg. “Treatment options depend on the patient and the type of cancer, and often are a combination of both approaches to treatment.” 

The 2016 Oncology Guidelines for Dogs and Cats were developed with sponsorship from Aratana Therapeutics, Inc., Medtronic, Inc., and Zoetis.

Photo credit: © iStock/edwindejongh

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