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Cat Radiation Therapy

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 20, 2012 by Dr. Janice Huntingford

Cat Radiation Therapy

Huge advances in the use of radiation therapy for cats have been made within the last 50 years. Tumors have been successfully diagnosed through the use of CAT scans, MRI, and histopathology. This tells vets where and what kind of tumor is present in cats, allowing them to begin radiation treatment with fewer risks than in the past.

When to Utilize Radiation Therapy

To kill a tumor completely, surgery and chemotherapy is often used in conjunction with radiation therapy. For tumors that are localized, and haven’t yet moved to other areas of the body, this type of therapy works well. In addition, radiation therapy can be used to grow the animal’s life quality, by shrinking the tumor, resulting in less pain, bleeding, and discomfort.

Tumors that can be Treated with Radiation Therapy

The tumors that seem to respond the best to radiation therapy are those that are found in the nose or mouth. Some mast cell tumors, and skin tumors, along with squamous cell carcinomas have been treated with good results. In cats, radiation therapy along with chemotherapy has worked to get rid of Cat Lymphoma Cancer. Certain bone tumors have also been treated with radiation along with other forms of treatment.

The decision to go with radiation therapy for a cat will be reliant on the following factors:

1. Whether or not the owner wants to have the therapy, including if they can afford it, and have the time needed to commit.

2. How well the pet’s health is otherwise, and if he has any other forms of disease.

3. Knowing the location, size, shape, and kind of tumor, and whether or not it has spread to other organs of the body.

4. If there are alternative treatments available for the tumor.

5. How well the veterinarian believes the treatment will work in relation to the effects both functionally and cosmetically.

How Does Radiation Therapy Work?

The tumor is hit with gamma rays, electrons, or photon beams. As the rays come in contact with the cell’s nucleus, it changes it, stopping the cell’s ability to divide and grow. Since the tumor grows much slower after radiation, and will eventually die, the tumor will start to shrink. Although the radiation not only affects cancer cells, but healthy cells as well, it is designed to give the most effect on the cancer cells, and minimal effect on health body cells.

Different Radiation Therapy Types

There exist several forms of radiation therapy today. For some tumors, particles that are radioactive in nature can be injected right into the body, into certain tissues that have been affected by cancer cells. Iodine has been used to treat hyperthyroidism in cats, and is a form of radiation therapy.

When using implants that are radioactive, it is known as Brachytherapy. This is where iridium-192 is put into the animal with wires. It is often used to treat fibrosarcomas in cats, and nasal tumors in dogs. Beams of radiation can also be used in radiation therapy, to shrink and destroy cancer cells.

How is Beam Radiation Given?

The cat is anesthetized so they cannot move during the procedure, and the first treatment consists of x-rays being taken to find out the exact location of the tumor, and then the beam is trained on the Cat Cancer. Subsequent visits will get the rest of the tumor areas, and usually takes only about 30-60 minutes each time.

Read also: Feline Immunodeficiency Virus – FIV
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Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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