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A common myth is that cancer will spread if it is exposed to air during a biopsy procedure or surgery. This concern may influence an owner’s decision regarding surgery for their pet. There is no evidence to support this theory in the scientific literature and obtaining information about the exact type of cancer is very valuable information when making a complete plan for treatment. In addition, surgery is the mainstay of treatment for most solid tumors and properly executed surgery should not result in spread of the cancer.

It has been shown that up to millions of tumor cells are released into circulation but only a very small number are able to form metastatic lesion.  In order for cancer cells to spread effectively, they must enter into circulation, evade the body’s defense mechanisms, and invade and grow in the new location. This process is very inefficient overall.

The goal of chemotherapy in veterinary oncology is to extend and improve the quality of life for your pet. Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with anticancer drugs. Chemotherapy is a word that creates an emotional response in everyone. Chances are high that you, or someone you know, have experienced chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer and may have experienced significant side effects. Chemotherapy in animals is very different from people and quality of life is the primary concern. The types of drugs, their dosages, and combinations are adjusted to ensure minimal toxicity.

Chemotherapy may be the only treatment, or it may be given in combination with other modalities. The type of cancer your pet has will determine the recommendations for treatment. Some cancers also benefit from surgery, radiation, and/or immunotherapy. In some cases, chemotherapy may be used to shrink the size of a tumor to increase your pet’s comfort while living with the disease.

For more information on what you need to know about Chemotherapy, check out our handouts page.

Chemotherapy protocols vary by the type of cancer, the extent of the disease, your goals, and concurrent health conditions your pet may have. Chemotherapeutic agents are given intravenously, subcutaneous, and/or orally.  Depending on the protocol, they may be given daily, weekly, or once every few weeks. The length of time your pet will be receiving chemotherapy depends on the type of cancer your pet has and response to the therapy.

Chemotherapy drugs are often used in combination to enhance the efficacy of the drugs and allow them to be used at lower dosages. Some tumors can be resistant to a certain drug. Using multiple drugs can help combat this problem by combining different ways of killing the cancer. The selection of drugs used will depend on what the protocol is for your pet’s cancer, as well as your pet’s individual health status.

For more information on what you need to know about Chemotherapy, check out our handouts page.

  • Compared to people, pets experience fewer and less severe side effects from chemotherapy.  Approximately 80% of pets have no side effects, and only 5% have serious side effects.  All rapidly dividing cells in the body are sensitive to chemotherapy, and while cancer cells fall into that category, so do cells that are found in the intestinal tract, bone marrow, and hair follicles. Chemotherapy may result in side effects seen 2 to 3 days after treatment and include gastrointestinal upset, immune suppression, and hair loss in some pets.
  • Gastrointestinal effects may include decreased appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Nausea can be difficult to identify at home, especially if you have more than one pet, or your pet grazes on its food throughout the day. Nausea is often manifested by poor appetite, decreased appetite, or changes in appetite. Your pet may be pickier and only want people food or treats. They may drool when you feed them, approach the food but do not eat, or require hand feeding. These are signs of nausea and it is likely time to start a nausea medication and/or appetite stimulant. Side effects are usually seen 2 to 3 days after treatment. Most of the time these side effects are mild and of short duration. However, severe diarrhea and/or vomiting can lead to weight loss and dehydration. Anti-nausea, appetite stimulants, probiotics and/or anti-diarrhea medication may be given to manage gastrointestinal side effects.
  • Immunosuppression results when the bone marrow is no longer able to make an adequate number of white blood cells to fight infections (this is called neutropenia.) A low white blood cell count leads to an increased susceptibility to infection. Signs to watch for include fever, lethargy, poor appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. If your pet is exhibiting these signs or feels warm to the touch, a rectal temperature should be taken.  If the temperature is >102.5-103, your pet should be evaluated by your veterinarian or at an emergency hospital. This side effect usually occurs 5-7 days after treatment with chemotherapy. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed as a preventive measure.
  • Some pets, just like some people, may lose their hair during chemotherapy treatment.  While this is less common in pets, it can occur in breeds of dogs with continuously growing hair coats (ex: poodles, shih tzus). Whiskers are most affected in cats, and shaved areas regrow more slowly. Hair loss may appear just in certain spots, as general thinning, or in rare cases the entire coat may fall out. Hair generally begins to grow back within a few weeks after treatment ends but the color may change.
  • Extravasation is when a chemotherapy drug leaks outside of the vein during administration.  Some drugs can cause irritation to the surrounding tissues if this occurs.  If there are concerns that an irritating drug may have leaked out of the vein, your veterinarian will discuss it with you. You would be instructed to monitor for redness, swelling, or licking at the injection site. If there are concerns, your pet should be re-evaluated.
  • Certain drugs can have specific toxicity to certain organs, which will be discussed if those drugs are required for your pet. Examples include doxorubicin which is cardiotoxic and lomustine which can affect liver function. While severe side effects are rare, any patient can have an unexpected reaction to a drug.


For more information on what you need to know about Chemotherapy, check out our handouts page.

At each chemotherapy visit, your pet will have a physical examination done by a veterinarian and lab work. Additional testing will be performed as is necessary. Once the tests are reviewed and your pet is cleared for treatment, administration of the drug will begin.  Chemotherapy appointments can be done on an outpatient or drop-of basis at most hospitals.

One of the roles of the immune system is in part to recognize self and “foreign” proteins. In the case of cancer, this implies recognition and elimination of cancer cells by the body. There many challenges in developing effective immunotherapies including tolerance of the cancer cells to the therapy and destruction of the therapy by the immune system. Read More

The initial consultation is $300. Recheck/follow up appointments cost $115. The cost of chemotherapy varies on the type of protocol used, location, the cost of drugs and where the pet is treated.

The consult is done via a video conference or phone call.

If your pet has been diagnosed with cancer and a consultation is urgent, please have your veterinarian contact Lotus Pets Oncology immediately.

Yes, after hours and weekend appointments will be offered based on availability.

Payment will be obtained at the time the appointment is scheduled. Lotus Pet Oncology requests 24 hours notice to cancel appointments.  There will be a $50 cancellation fee if you are unable to make your appointment without giving 24 hours notice. The fee will be waived in extenuating circumstances. However, a $10 processing fee is always incurred.  There is no cost to reschedule an appointment.

No. Dr. Binstock will make recommendations for prescriptions directly to the primary care veterinarian.