Symposium on oncology: Introduction

Dogs and cats are important parts of our lives, acting as loyal companions and loving family members. Because their pets have been integrated into the family unit, pet owners happily seek routine veterinary care for their companion animals. With preventive medical practices such as vaccinations, the incidence and morbidity caused by infectious and parasitic diseases have been dramatically reduced. As a result, dogs and cats are being afforded longer and better lives. However, as our pets begin to live longer, the diagnosis of old-age-related diseases such as osteoarthritis, urinary incontinence, and cognitive dysfunction may become more frequent.

Of the various ailments affecting geriatric dogs and cats, cancer remains one of the most devastating disease processes. Fortunately, great progress has been achieved in the past several years in understanding the steps involved in tumorigenesis, allowing for a greater appreciation of how and why cancers may develop in companion animals. Through the use of molecular tools, the intricacies of cancer development have gradually been teased apart, leading to insights for the better diagnosis and treatment of cancer in companion animals. Because of the strong human-animal bond, pet owners will actively seek information regarding new therapeutic options for their pets afflicted with cancer. Thus, it is important that veterinary practitioners are well-informed of the current options available for treating cancer in both dogs and cats.

In this symposium, updated information regarding treatment options for three common tumors is provided. The first article discusses managing cutaneous mast cell tumors in dogs with either local or systemic therapies. This article provides practical advice on the appropriate treatment options for dogs with confined or disseminated disease. The second article discusses the use of radiation therapy and systemic chemotherapy in treating canine and feline lymphoma. Additionally, the advantages and disadvantages of using oral lomustine for malignant lymphoma are highlighted. Finally, in the last article, the various surgical, radiation, and medical treatment options for canine osteosarcoma are addressed. Also, the May issue of Veterinary Medicine will present two articles focusing on the recognition and management of pain associated with various cancerous processes in dogs and cats.

—Dr. Timothy M. Fan