For area veterinarian, Pet Cancer Month generates an advisory — and memories

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It came as no surprise to Dr. Evan Ware that Pet Cancer Awareness Month had rolled around
once again on Nov. 1. Not only, he said, does the yearly campaign alert area pet owners to advances
in veterinary oncology but reminds him of his own dog’s battle with primary bone cancer.
Now, says Ware, director of Tempe-based University Animal Hospital, veterinary patients that previously had
very limited options when a diagnosis of cancer was made have a better chance of extending their pet’s lifespan.
“Our patients that previously had very limited options when a diagnosis of cancer was made now potentially
have several options to choose what is best for them and their pets,” said Ware.
Ware was commenting on news from the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M
University marking the start of this year’s pet cancer awareness initiative. While doctors at the university noted that skin cancer remains one of the most common cancers, they noted that primary care veterinarians can usually treat cancerous skin tumors without referring the pet to specialty care.
However, more serious types of cancer—including tumors that appear in the bone, mouth, glands (such
as anal sacs), or lymph nodes—may require surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy.
In some situations, a combination of treatments may be necessary to prevent the cancer from relapsing.
For example, an animal may undergo surgery to remove a cancerous tumor—but that doesn’t mean the animal is free of cancer cells. The animal may still need chemotherapy to remove remaining cancer cells from the body, which can help prevent it from developing again. Ware agreed with the Texas A&M report that one thing to consider when looking for a cancer treatment is finances.                                                                                                                            Though pets are often considered family, cancer treatment for our furry friends can get expensive.
Dr. Brandan Wustefeld-Janssens, a fellowship-trained surgical oncologist at Texas A&M, suggested working with one’s own veterinarian to find the most cost-efficient treatment plan.
In addition, looking into pet insurance—when you first get your pet—can help cover the cost of cancer
treatment.
There are also clinical trials to be found at vetcancertrials.org or the American Veterinary Medical Association’s online database.
Clinical trials are partially or fully funded programs that determine the effectiveness of a treatment.
As to his own dog when its cancer was discovered, Ware said the lack of treatment options resulted in a poor
prognosis with an expected three months or less left.
“Fortunately, with our fast action and aggressive treatment of surgery and chemotherapy, I was able to spend the next year with him experiencing a great quality of life—no missed meals and no missed walks, except for
the first two weeks post-operatively.”
The same reports are heard regularly at UAH, said Ware.
“It brings us the most pleasure hearing these stories on a daily basis.”
University Animal Hospital is at 2500 S. Hardy Drive, Tempe. Phone: 480-968-9275.

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