While no pet-parent hopes to ever hear the word “cancer,” it is helpful to know that veterinary oncology has advanced in such a way that more options are available for the treatment of your pet’s cancer than ever before. Similar to human medicine, there are veterinarians that specialize in a variety of areas of veterinary medicine. These areas range from surgery, dermatology, to even oncology!
What is a Veterinary Oncologist?
A board-certified veterinary oncologist is a veterinarian that has continued extensive training after veterinary school in the specific field of oncology. To become board-certified in oncology, a veterinarian must complete a minimum of four years of veterinary college, a one-year internship or equivalent, and three years in a residency program that meets the standards of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) in the specialty of oncology. They are then required to pass a series of exams and publish literature before becoming a Diplomate of the specialty college.
Why Would My Pet Need a Veterinary Oncologist?
For pets that have received the diagnosis of cancer, a veterinary oncologist has the training and expertise available to develop the best possible treatment plan for your pet. They also have years of experience dealing with drugs used to treat cancer and have knowledge regarding possible side effects and drug interactions. Since some forms of cancer require surgical intervention combined with medical treatments, working with a veterinary oncologist that has the ability to organize care with a veterinary surgeon is optimal.
What Should I Expect if My Pet Undergoes Cancer Treatment at MVS?
We understand that trips to the veterinarian can be stressful for pets so we make it a big priority to make each visit with our oncology team a positive one. Oncology patients receive lots of treats, fluffy blankets, and plenty of TLC so that they have a positive association with their visits. Cats are given boxes to hide in so that they feel secure.
Most treatments done with our oncology team are performed on an outpatient basis in our oncology suite. This suite is solely dedicated to our chemotherapy patients. We feel it is extremely important for patients receiving chemotherapy to have a quiet, low-stress, and comfortable environment during their treatments.
Are There any Warning Signs of Cancer that Pet Owners Should Be Aware Of?
We recommend yearly to twice yearly check-ups and preventative care with your primary care veterinarian. You should also have your veterinarian evaluate your pet for any of the following concerns:
- Any lumps or bumps on your pet’s skin (especially those that change or grow in size)
- Unexplained limping/lameness in the front or rear legs
- Unexplained weight-loss
- Excessive gastrointestinal signs (vomiting/diarrhea)
- Open sores that don’t heal
- Difficulty urinating and defecating
Early detection and intervention are extremely important when dealing with cancer. Most pets will not show signs of being ill from cancer until it becomes advanced. In addition to any of the above items mentioned, any health concerns or abnormal behaviors should be evaluated by a veterinarian.
About MVS Oncologist, Dr. Lorin Hillman
Dr. Hillman is the only board-certified oncologist in the area including western Tennessee and Arkansas. She is a graduate of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine and is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) in the specialty of oncology. Dr. Hillman completed an internship at Kansas State University in small animal medicine and surgery, and a three-year medical oncology residency at the University of Illinois. During her residency, she participated in research projects and clinical trials for canine osteosarcoma, canine mast cell disease, and feline oral squamous cell carcinoma.