FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – When it comes to cancer, we’re pretty adept at talking about diagnosis, treatment and remission for people. But what about our pets?
Now more than ever, with advances in technology, animals are being treated for the disease, surviving and thriving like their human counterparts.
The radiation room at the Animal Cancer Care Clinic in Fort Lauderdale is built to pinpoint specific cancer treatments, like intravenous chemotherapy care.
Dr. Stephanie Correa is a specialist solely treating cancer in animals.
“Our pets live much longer now than they did 30 years ago and the greatest risk factor for cancer is age,” she explained.
Fifty percent of dogs and cats over the age of 10 will develop some form of cancer.
That’s why Lisa Urdaneta took her dog Marlee to the clinic.
“It was actually Thanksgiving at night, I noticed his glands were big, but like obviously big,” Urdaneta said. “He did a bunch of tests and he noticed it was lymphoma, so that was quite devastating.”
Devastating but treatable with three rounds of five treatments of IV chemo for the cocker spaniel.
When we think about cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation with us humans, we’re usually thinking about extending life. But at the Animal Cancer Care Clinic, it’s also about quality of life and getting that extra time with our family member.
“It’s like a miracle -- two and a half extra years with him, and again, I don’t see any side effects. He just plays ball, he plays with us, he’s happy and healthy,” Urdaneta said.
“And that’s really the key, for people and for pets, to identify the cancers when they are in an early stage and then they become so treatable that often times they are curable,” Correa added.
That certainly was the case with Ghost, an 8-year-old Florida Cur dog, diagnosed with a mouth tumor.
“One day, he came in from outside and we noticed some bleeding in his mouth,” Ryann Quinn said. “It was in the bone in his jaw -- they would have basically had to remove a portion of his jaw.”
Instead, Quinn and Vikki Mitchell opted for 20 rounds of radiation.
“The tumor is completely gone, you can’t even tell he even had it,” Quinn said.
Months later, the retired hunting dog received his cancer treatment graduation cap.
“He’s back to his old self, still running around the yard, chasing squirrels,” Quinn said.
So how do you know if your pet, especially an aging one, may have an issue related to cancer?
The answer to that question is frequent vet visits, like as in three times a year for our senior pets.
The Animal Cancer Care Clinic does accept pet insurance, so definitely consider signing up for coverage when your animals are young.