May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month

May, 2016

Pet Cancer Myth-Busters from the Animal Cancer Foundation

The word "cancer" stirs up many emotions:  fear, anxiety, depression, and loss of hope.  Pet parents especially feel this because their pets cannot speak to them about how they are feeling or what they are thinking.  Pet parents need the best possible information to make decisions with regard to their pet's treatment options.    If you are here because your pet has just received a cancer diagnosis, you are NOT alone.  

MYTH-BUSTERS FOR PET PARENTS:

MYTH:         Cancer is a death sentence.

  • FALSE:
    • Depending upon the type of cancer diagnosed, new therapies have increased both survival time and pet quality of life
    • Take information you learn on the internet with a grain of salt.  Statistics compare groups in the aggregate.  Just as with cancer in people, every pet is an individual.  
    • Consult a board certified veterinary oncologist in your area for the latest treatment options
    • Find one near you by searching the Veterinary Cancer Society website (www.vetcancersociety.org, or by phone 877-448-3223)
    • Don't be afraid to seek out second opinions for your pet; you have choices!
    • Gather all information you can before making your decision; there are no "right" answers, but there are INFORMED decisions

MYTH:         Pets suffer similar side-effects to people from chemotherapy

  • ​​​FALSE:
    • Veterinary oncologists use milder protocols to enhance quality and length of life 
    • 95% of pet patients are treated as outpatients and clinic visits typically last under one hour
    • Pets do NOT lose their fur from chemotherapy (pets with hair may experience hair loss)
    • Because of less toxic protocals, pets are unlikely to experience nausea.  New medications are used in those cases to prevent reactions.

MYTH:        Treatment of pet cancer is so expensive, I won't be able to afford it

  • BOTH TRUE AND FALSE:
    • Pet cancer treatment is costly due to the expense of drugs, diagnostic tests and equipment, etc. just as in medical care for people
    • Many pet insurers have plans that cover pet cancer treatment, so if you have insurance read your policy carefully
    • If funds are an issue, ask your veterinary oncologist about less costly treatment plans that may sustain your pet and about available clinical trials, which are often funded and free of charge to enrolled pets.  
    • Remember just like you, veterinary professionals love pets, understand financial questions, and want to present all treatment options possible to help your pet thrive.  Don't be afraid to ask!
    • Many philanthropic organizations exist to help pet owners pay for treatment.  Although ACF does NOT pay for treatment, call them at 877-448-3223 and they will guide you through a list of those that do.

MYTH:        Cancer prevention for pets doesn't exist

  • FALSE:
    • Obesity is a risk factor for cancer, give pets exercise and healthy food and treats
    • Just as in people, early detection is a key factor in survival.  Make annual veterinary appointments; know the warning signs!
    • Some lawn pesticides have been shown to have a link to bladder cancer in certain breeds of dogs, so avoid exposing your pets