Why does my pet need to see a board-certified small animal oncologist?

An oncologist is a specialist that focuses on the treatment of cancer in pets. Often pets are sent to an oncologist when a mass is detected so that the mass can be further diagnosed.  If a specific diagnosis has not yet been obtained, the oncologist will recommend determining what type of cancer is present. When the diagnosis is known, the oncologist will discuss specific treatment recommendations with you. These recommendations may include surgery, chemotherapy, or a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.  

What should I expect during a visit with a board-certified oncologist?hawaii cancer vet, honolulu cancer vet, Dr. Sarah McMillan

The oncologist will take a history, review results of testing done by your family vet, and perform a complete physical examination of your pet. The oncologist will then discuss whether additional testing is needed, or if a specific treatment plan can be designed for your pet. Two most common questions that need to be answered in order to determine the best treatment plan for your pet are:

  1. What kind of cancer is present?
  2. Is there any evidence that the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other areas of the body?

What we offer

Our board-certified oncology specialist has extensive experience diagnosing and treating a vast variety of cancers. Examples of conditions for which your family veterinarian might refer your pet to an oncologist are:

  • Undiagnosed mass/suspected cancer
  • hawaii vet oncology, hawaii pet oncology, pet cancer honoluluLymphoma
  • Mast cell tumor
  • Osteosarcoma (bone tumor)
  • Leukemia or multiple myeloma
  • Heart based mass
  • Bladder mass
  • Anal sac mass
  • Splenic or liver masses
  • Lung mass
  • Skin cancer
  • Nasal cancer
  • Oral mass
  • Intestinal mass
  • Thyroid tumor
  • Cancers not responding to standard treatment protocols

Depending on the type of cancer your pet has, diagnostic testing or treatments may include:

  • advanced diagnostics for cancer diagnosis including immunohistochemistry, immunocytochemistry, flow cytometry, and PARR assay
  • diagnostic Imaging - ultrasound, radiography (x-rays), CT scans, MRIs
  • biopsies of masses, internal organs, or bone marrow
  • surgical consultation
  • latest in cancer treatment options including chemotherapy, metronomic, and molecularly targeted therapy
  • melanoma vaccine
  • palliative treatment of cancer associated pain

What is it like for pets being treated with chemotherapy?   Dr. Sarah McMillan, Sarah McMillan DVM, hawaii vet oncologist                                                                                                     

In general, cats and dogs tolerate chemotherapy very well. Fortunately, pets don’t have as many side effects as humans going through chemotherapy do. Although hair loss is common in humans, it is rare in dogs and is seen mainly with breeds that have constantly growing hair (ie poodle, shih tzu, West Highland white terrier, and Old English sheepdog).

How is chemotherapy given?

Chemotherapy can be given in several different ways depending on the drug. Most types of chemotherapy are given by intravenous injection (IV). Some chemotherapy drugs are given by mouth or as an injection under the skin. Chemotherapy appointments generally last 30 minutes to an hour depending on which drug needs to be administered.

Throughout your visit your pet will be treated with compassion and you will be offered the highest level of care available to pets with cancer. All treatment recommendations will be made with your pet’s quality of life in mind.

Our oncology service is led by Dr. Sarah McMillan, Hawaii’s first and only board-certified veterinary oncologist.

For more information on VERC's oncology services, call 808-735-7735.