One of SFVS’s veterinary oncologists, Aarti Sabhlok, DVM, Board-Qualified (Oncology), is featured in today’s edition of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Ask the Vet column.
The reader’s question: My dachshund just had a cancerous tumor removed from his rump. I’m told the margins are clear, but that there is a high probability of it returning. Can you tell me what to look for? Also, they mentioned radiation therapy. What would that be like?
Dr. Sabhlok’s answer: Unfortunately, there isn’t a generic answer to your question. Each case is different, and post-surgery follow-up care and treatment options depend on a number of factors such as tumor type, grade of tumor, whether there is lymphatic or vascular invasion, and other medical issues.
In general, therapies given after tumor-removal surgery are used to either maintain permanent control of the cancer or slow down the rate of recurrence. These can include chemotherapy (oral or injectable) and radiation therapy, or a combination of the two.
Unlike in humans, chemotherapy and radiation typically do not cause side effects such as nausea, tiredness and loss of appetite. Because the pet must remain perfectly still during radiation treatments, general anesthesia is used. Radiation therapy is usually given as a series of treatments, from once a week to multiple times a week, typically over a course of three to five weeks.
I would recommend consulting a veterinary oncologist in your area to develop a follow-up care plan and a re-examination schedule to monitor your pet for recurrence of cancer.