A diagnosis of cancer can be a pet owners worst nightmare, but for cats nowadays it is not necessarily a death sentence. With advanced treatments, pets suffering from serious diseases have a higher survival rate than ever before. While in earlier generations pet owners were often resigned to the necessity of putting a cat or dog out of its misery, medical procedures that can substantially prolong a pets life are now commonplace. If your cat has been diagnosed with cancer, there are number of treatment options including chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Many veterinarians prefer radiation, as it is a relatively quick and non-invasive form of treatment.
As with the diagnosis of human cancers, a veterinarian will examine the cat thoroughly and establish what stage the cancer is in and how far the tumor has spread. This is done through x-rays and ultrasound. Samples are taken for biopsies and the lymph nodes are examined. The aim of cancer treatment in cats is to prolong the animals’ life with minimum side effects, and to reduce pain and suffering. It wasn’t that long ago that typically when a pet owner received news that their cat had cancer they immediately decided to euthanize. The owners wanted to avoid putting their cat through a lengthy and painful treatment. However, radiation for pets has become more effective in recent years and eliminates the need for euthanasia in many cases.
Surgery is the first stage of cancer treatment for pets. It is responsible for removing most of the tumor. However, in many cases not all of the tumor can be removed during surgery. This occurs particularly if there is a metastatic cyst or parts of the tumor growing in various parts the body. Radiation is administered through a machine and targets the areas where the tumor is growing while avoiding normal, healthy cells. There may be some healthy cells that are destroyed in the process, but improvements in radiation technology minimize this risk. Radiation has also been shown to reduce pain among cancer patients.
Radiation for pets, just as with humans, carries a number of side effects. The treatment can be draining and following radiation, your cat is likely to become listless and have an increased need to sleep. He or she may not be as energetic or have a desire to run around and play. However, in a few days, this effect should subside and your cat is likely to resume its normal eating and sleeping patterns. If you notice any other significant side effects that are not going away after treatment, you should contact your veterinarian right away.
Radiation has revolutionized cancer treatment in cats and has given pet owners hope. While cancer treatment can be a grueling experience for a pet, it is shown to be effective in many of the cases where an owner might otherwise be resigned to the notion of putting a beloved dog or cat to sleep. Radiation focuses on killing the cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. While it is not a perfect procedure, and there can be side effects, it does often lead to remission. There are a number of risks involved in radiation, including a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer. But, many pet owners feel that it is worthwhile as an effective cancer treatment.