Radiation Oncology Service
Description of Service and Procedures
Radiation therapy has been used in an attempt to treat veterinary tumors since the early 1900s. During the past 50 years, significant advances have occurred. The use of histopathology in conjunction with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans has resulted in accurate diagnosis of the type and location of tumors. New technology has increased the effectiveness and decreased the side effects and risks of radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy is used in combination with surgery and chemotherapy to provide control and sometimes even cure of cancer. When this is cannot be achieved, radiation can still provide significant palliation, meaning alleviation of symptoms and improved quality of life. Treatment is performed by a board certified radiation oncologist in conjunction with certified veterinary technicians trained in radiation therapy.
A Siemens 6 MV linear accelerator produces high energy photons and a range electron beams. A computerized three-dimensional treatment planning system designed by Prowess specifically for the veterinary field uses MRI and CT scan images to pinpoint the exact location of a tumor within the patient and target the radiation beams at the tumor. A custom block fabrication station allows for a treatment beam tailored to the individual patient. When the high energy radiation hits the nucleus of a cell it alters it, destroying the ability of the cell to divide and grow. While radiation affects both the normal cells and cancer cells that are within the beam’s path, the radiation treatment is designed to produce the maximum effect on the tumor and minimize the effect on normal tissue. When the actual burst of radiation therapy is over, no radioactivity remains in the body.
Veterinary patients must be anesthetized for each dose of radiation, since they must remain absolutely still during the treatment. The duration of anesthesia is generally short, and the patient is monitored using sophisticated equipment including electrocardiogram, blood pressure and respiratory indices. Modern anesthesia drugs allow for quick onset of and recovery from anesthesia, allowing a treatment course of up to five days a week for one month or even longer. Anesthesia is administered by highly trained veterinary nurse-anesthetists who select the drugs and administration protocol according to each patient’s individual requirements.
The Rosenthal Imaging and Treatment Center is equipped to handle a caseload of up to 15 to 20 patients a day.
Appointment / Referral Information
You can make a radiation oncology appointment by contacting the Ryan Veterinary Hospital Appointment Desk at 215.898.4680.