Difference Between Chemotherapy And Radiotherapy In Treatments For Dogs With Cancer

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy in dogs can eliminate malignant tumors and delay disease progression.
Difference between chemotherapy and radiotherapy in treatments for dogs with cancer

The life expectancy of pets has increased considerably compared to decades ago. Today, animals reach increasingly advanced ages and, therefore, cases of dogs with cancer are quite common. The exact causes of canine tumors are not yet known, but there are several factors that play an important role.

These factors can be hereditary, environmental and nutritional. Chemotherapy and radiation therapies are most commonly used to treat cancer in dogs.

It is essential to have a diagnosis as soon as possible  to act quickly and effectively. That’s why periodic examinations at the veterinarian are so important, especially when the animal reaches a certain age.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy  is the use of drugs to treat cancer. These treatments do not promise to eradicate cancer 100%, but they considerably increase the quality of life of the animal.

Chemotherapy in dogs can be used as a single treatment or in combination with other treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy. Chemotherapy will be used in the following situations:

  • Tumors that are impossible to operate due to their size or location. For example, if they are close to important blood vessels.
  • Tumors with risk of metastasis  that can spread throughout the body.
  • Before surgery on a tumor to reduce its size and allow it to be removed using surgical techniques.
  • After removal of a tumor. After removing the tumor, with chemotherapy we ensure that no cancer cells remain in the area, preventing the cancer from reproducing.

What is chemotherapy?

The type of chemotherapy and its form of administration should be studied by a veterinarian and, quite possibly, we should go to the clinic from time to time.

All chemotherapy treatments work by attacking rapidly dividing cells, just as cancer cells do. This is why  not only malignant cancer cells are affected, but also other dividing cells throughout the body.

The application of  chemotherapy in animals is usually less harmful and with fewer side effects than in people. This is because the treatment is less aggressive in smaller doses.

Radiotherapy in dogs with cancer

The use of radiotherapy in animals is much older than we think and it is a technique that has been advancing since the 19th century. It consists of a radiation-based cancer treatment.

Ionizing radiation interacts with genetic material and can cause damage to cells, especially those that are proliferating. This means that, like chemotherapy, it can affect both cancer cells and healthy ones.

Radiation can be delivered through an external source of radiation or through radioactive isotopes. Due to the use of radiotherapy equipment, it is also likely that this treatment is only available in specialist clinics.

Radiotherapy in dogs with cancer

Radiotherapy in dogs is indicated for all tumors where it is not possible to operate  or for those that are residual after an illness. Some examples are:

  • Oral tumors.
  • Nasal cavity tumors.
  • Tumors located in the central nervous system, such as brain tumors.
  • Mast cell tumors, which are the most frequently diagnosed malignant skin and subcutaneous tissue tumors in dogs.

If we are going to start applying chemotherapy or radiotherapy to our dog, it is very important to strictly follow the guidelines indicated by the veterinarian in order to obtain the best possible results and to be able to observe an improvement in the animal’s quality of life.

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