State-of-the art radiation therapy delivered by leaders in the field of veterinary radiation oncology.
The practice of veterinary radiation oncology depends on advanced technology. At The Oncology Service in Springfield, VA, we utilize an isocentric linear accelerator capable of targeting tumors with a high-energy radiation beam.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, electrons, neutrons, protons, or other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Most radiation treatments in veterinary medicine are carried out using a machine that directs a beam from outside of the body (external-beam radiation therapy). There are other forms of radiation therapy used for specific tumor types, including Strontium-90 radiotherapy for treatment of superficial tumors (e.g. feline squamous cell carcinomas of the nose and ear tips). In this instance, the radiation comes from a radioactive source of material placed next to cancer cells.
Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance that circulates throughout the body. In veterinary medicine, the most frequent form of this is radioactive Iodine-131 for the treatment of hyperthyroidism in cats.
Your team of doctors will work with you to identify the best form of treatment for your pet’s disease. In veterinary medicine, radiation is used for both curative-intent and palliative-intent treatments for a wide variety of tumor types including:
- Soft tissue sarcomas
- Mast cell tumors
- Osteosarcoma and other bone tumors
- Nasal tumors
- Brain and pituitary tumors
- Oral tumors including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and fibrosarcoma
- Thyroid tumors
- Anal sac tumors
- Genitourinary tumors including prostatic and bladder tumors
- Spinal tumors
- Localized lymphoma, plasma cell tumors, and histiocytic sarcoma
- Heart-base tumors
Most radiation treatments utilize a type of radiation known as photons which are most effective for targeting deep-seated or complex shaped lesions. For superficial tumors though, electron therapy is an alternative that allows greater sparing of structures located deep to the tumor. A radiation oncologist can select a particular electron energy that will penetrate to the appropriate depth of tissue and spare tissues that are beyond the target. Electron shielding blocks can be custom cut with our block cutting equipment and cerrobend alloy to match the shape of almost any target. Electron treatments are most useful for superficial tumors located over critical tissues such as the chest or abdominal wall.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
IMRT is a sophisticated treatment planning technique that requires advanced imaging and 3-dimensional treatment planning software to dynamically shape a radiation dose to conform to almost any target with a complex shape. This can allow for increased sparing of critical structures that are close to the tumor target. A common example is the use of IMRT to spare the dose to the eyes when treating a nasal tumor or a tumor around the orbit of the eye. This can decrease normal tissue side effects and/or allow for escalation of radiation dose to the tumor.