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Willows is currently the only centre in the UK to have both medical and surgical Oncology Specialists as full-time staff members. This, combined with a multi-disciplinary team approach to the management of cats and dogs with cancer, enables us to provide the best possible levels of care for pets with this problem. We provide a comprehensive service, caring for patients that either already have a diagnosis of cancer or that are suspected of having cancer.
Clinical care is provided by Specialists in Oncology, Surgery and Internal Medicine. These services are fully supported by Specialist Diagnostic Imaging and Anaesthesia teams, a Clinical Nutritionist and by our dedicated teams of interns, nurses and other clinical support staff who provide patient care 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Patients with cancer often need intensive veterinary and nursing care and our Intensive Care Unit is equipped to the highest levels to provide the best possible monitoring and treatment of patients on this ward. These levels of care and expertise, along with the superb equipment and facilities for patient care at Willows, enable us to optimise the management and outcome for each case.
Some patients with cancer or cancer-associated diseases need prompt investigation and treatment, and we will see urgent and emergency cases on the same day that we are contacted. We are also happy to provide telephone advice to veterinary surgeons on the management of patients with cancer.
Once a patient arrives at Willows, we will start with a detailed consultation, examination of the patient and a thorough discussion with the owner. Patients with cancer or suspected of having cancer will often require additional investigations and tests, including blood tests, biopsies and diagnostic imaging. Once the results of these investigations are known, an appropriate plan for treatment of the disease can be made. Whatever the nature of the case, we aim to provide a sympathetic and caring approach and to provide a plan for investigation and treatment that is tailored to the patient and its disease, and which takes full account of the owner’s wishes. Improving the patient’s quality of life is our most important overriding concern at every stage.
Pets with cancer are sent to see our Specialists by other vets who refer patients to us. From the time of the first consultation we remain in close contact with the referring veterinary surgeon by phone and in writing, both while the patient is hospitalised and afterwards, once the pet has been discharged from the hospital and gone home. We may provide follow-up care at Willows or we may arrange for the referring practice to do this, following discussion with the referring veterinary surgeon.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.
What does Willows provide for the care of cancer patients?
Our Specialist surgeons are experienced in the management of all forms of solid tumours and reconstructive surgery. Particular areas of interest include the management of mast cell tumours, soft tissue sarcomas, tumours inside the mouth (oral tumours), chest (thoracic) tumours such as those in the lung and the chest wall, and tumours in the tummy (abdomen) such as those in the liver, spleen, kidney or intestine.
One of Willows Soft Tissue Specialists performing key hole surgery
Tumours in the chest or the abdomen may sometimes be treatable by keyhole surgery where a camera and thin surgical instruments can be passed through small holes in the skin. A full range of the high-tech surgical equipment for performing keyhole procedures is available at Willows. In some patients it may be possible to manage their condition by another so-called ‘minimally invasive’ technique, that is termed interventional radiology. In this instance moving X-rays are used to visualise the body and pass instruments, dyes, drugs etc. into the blood vessels in the region of the tumour.
Our Specialist medicine clinicians can provide a range of chemotherapy (anti-cancer drug treatment) protocols for the management of various forms of cancer. In all cases the treatment is tailored to the needs of the individual patient, and whilst chemotherapy protocols in people often cause significant side-effects, the drug combinations used in pets are generally very well tolerated and aimed at giving a good quality of life whilst still managing the underlying cancer. Our medicine Specialists have expertise in managing a wide range of cancers including lymphoma, mast cell disease (stage II or III) and bladder tumours, and in giving supplementary medical treatment for patients with osteosarcoma and haemangiosarcoma.
A patient undergoing chemotherapy
Cutting edge therapy
Our clinicians are involved in the use of some of the most up to date types of treatment for cancers of various types. These include:
- Tyrosine kinase inhibitors for the treatment of various types of cancer including mast cell tumours
- Metronomic chemotherapy for various tumours such as nasal tumours and sarcomas
- Therapeutic melanoma vaccine – this vaccine is not used for prevention but for treatment of certain types of melanoma. It is only available in a restricted number of centres in the UK, including Willows
- Intra-cavitary chemotherapy - this basically means that an anti-cancer drug is directly delivered into a cavity such as the chest or the abdomen (tummy) to maximise the concentration of drug where it is needed and reduce any side-effects on the rest of the body where it is not required
Willows cutting edge diagnostic imaging equipment and the Specialist expertise of the clinicians and radiographer running the imaging department are often critical in making an accurate diagnosis and performing a thorough assessment of cancer patients. The information provided is invaluable in determining the likely outlook for each patient and the optimal means of managing the condition. All the scans and other imaging investigations we perform are tailored to every individual patient.
Willows cutting edge diagnostic imaging equipment
Specialist-led Anaesthesia team
We are fortunate at Willows to have a dedicated team of anaesthetists. They are involved in the assessment of patients before they undergo surgery and therefore to tailor anaesthetic protocols to the individual patient. This is very important in minimising the risk of the procedure, especially in patients that are already ill and who may be undergoing lengthy and sometimes quite major surgery.
Our anaesthetists are also involved in pain management and with their expert help our aim is to make all our patients as comfortable and free of discomfort as possible, whether at the time of surgery or when managing any pain that might result from the underlying cancerous condition.
Finally our anaesthesia team is involved, along with the other Specialists in providing critical care to seriously ill patients in our Intensive Care Unit.
Willows is fortunate in having a full-time Small Animal Clinical Nutritionist (a medicine Specialist veterinary surgeon with additional advanced level training in nutrition) who can provide advice on nutritional support of the cancer patient. This may involve changes to diet (sometimes given by tube into the stomach for patients that cannot eat), whilst in some poorly patients it may involve giving nutritional support intravenously.
Other Specialist care
The Specialists in the Ophthalmology, Orthopaedic and Neurology teams will also see patients with cancers in, for example, the eye, the eye socket, bones, joints, spine and brain. Wherever required, they will seek the assistance of members of the Oncology teams to assist in the diagnosis and management of these patients.
To assist owners whose pets may have cancer or who are suspected of having cancer, we have put together a range of oncology information sheets which explain this disease, our clinical approach to investigation and treatment of the condition and information on certain types of tumour (growths) commonly seen at our practice. Please feel free to view and download this information by following the links provided.