Chemotherapy is a form of treatment that involves giving drugs to control cancer. Many of the drugs that we use for cancer chemotherapy in our patients are the same as those used in the treatment of human cancers, but there is one important difference between human chemotherapy and the treatment in our patients. In order to avoid side effects of treatment that are often reported in human oncology, the drugs are used at lower doses and frequently the time intervals between treatments are longer.
Our aim is to maintain a high quality of life while at the same time controlling the cancer.
Chemotherapy can be used in a number of ways depending on the type of cancer that is being treated.
This is where it is used as the only method of treatment for the cancer. Mainly this is for forms of blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukaemia. Chemotherapy used in this way frequently uses combinations of drugs to get the maximum effect by attacking the disease in a number of ways.
Here cytotoxic medication is given as part of a planned multi-modal treatment – that is using different methods of treating cancer. Usually this will be following surgery. The idea is that surgery or perhaps radiotherapy, will be used to treat the primary cancer, and chemotherapy will be used afterwards to “mop-up” any residual cancer cells that may have spread from the primary. Most often this uses just one drug that has been shown to be effective against the form of cancer.
This is where the medication is given on long term but low dose treatment to prevent the regrowth of some more insidious forms of cancer.
Though side effects are not common, we can’t know how any single patient will respond and if your pet has a difficult time, and you or we decide that their quality of life is too compromised then we can adjust or stop the treatment.
Remember our pets don’t know they have cancer so we have to treat all of your pet, not just the disease.