Girl grooming of his dog at homeCancer is a formidable foe, and science is still in its infancy when it comes to mounting a battle against it. Thankfully, we have more options than ever before to treat cancer in our veterinary patients, and have a great deal of success. Our failures are still too high for our liking, however, and we are always looking for new ways to combat this common disease.

Oakland Veterinary Referral Services is excited to be offering a newer treatment technology for our patients with cancer. Electrochemotherapy in pets is an exciting option that we hope will allow us to win a few more of our battles.

The Ins and Outs of Electrochemotherapy for Pets

Every cancer is different, and there is no one-sized fits all treatment plan for every pet and every cancer. The more tools we have at our disposal, however, the better our odds of beating cancer.

Electrochemotherapy in pets is a new and innovative option. When we use this type of treatment, we inject anti-cancer chemical agents directly into the tumor which allows us to minimize potential side effects.

After the injection, electrical pulses are applied to the area, which allows the cancer cells to be more susceptible to the chemotherapy agents.

Electrochemotherapy (ECT) is ideal when:

  • Tumors grow in a location where they are difficult to remove surgically
  • Tumors are locally invasive, making clean margins difficult to achieve
  • The patient would benefit from radiation therapy, but it is unable to be pursued
  • The patient is unable to receive systemic chemotherapy

This seems to be a very effective treatment option for several cancer types, including mammary tumors, tumors of the mouth or nose, mast cell tumors, fibrosarcomas, localized lymphomas, and papillomas.

Electrochemotherapy at OVRS

Our oncology department is excited to be able to offer ECT as an option to our pet patients. When pets are being treated, they are typically fasted overnight and brought in to our hospital in the morning. Blood tests will be obtained prior to a short-acting anesthesia so that we may administer the chemotherapy agent and proceed with the electrochemotherapy treatment. Pets are generally able to go home the same day.

The risk of side effects is very low, as we are able to use a much lower dose of medication. Most frequently we see some local inflammation and irritation at the tumor site as the diseased cells die. These side effects are typically easily managed with supportive care.

Most often, pets need at least two ECT treatments approximately two weeks apart. For those receiving surgery, the first treatment may be done at the time of the procedure.

If you have a pet with cancer, we would be happy to help you determine if electrochemotherapy might be a good treatment option for your situation. As the first veterinary hospital in Michigan to offer electrochemotherapy in pets, we are excited to see how many patients we can help. Please, feel free to call us with your questions.