The field of medicine dealing with tumours in animals – at the Kurosz Clinic we mainly treat tumours in dogs, cats and ferrets.
What is cancer?
Tumours are the first and primary cause of death in older dogs and cats. This applies to more than half of this group of animals. Despite this, they are often more treatable than the more common kidney or heart diseases. As in human oncology, there have been significant developments in the treatment of tumours in animals in recent years. These advances allow your animals to live longer and endure cancer in much better comfort than before.
Let us remember that cancer is not a death sentence. Of course, its diagnosis is always a very difficult experience for the whole family, but the most important thing is precisely this correct diagnosis and, once the prognosis has been established, to propose the most effective and appropriate treatment for the patient. It is only after a full diagnosis that we are able to determine the next course of action and help you decide how to proceed.
Where do cancers come from?
As in humans,the causes of cancer are not fully understood. Environmental factors such as pollution or the influence of solar radiation are suspected. Very rarely, the causes can be infectious. It is believed that there is a certain breed and gender predisposition to contract certain cancers, but the appearance of cancerous growths of any tissue in the body cannot be predicted.
Are cancers in humans and animals the same?
Overall – yes. Names and origins do not differ. However, the behaviour of the tumour in the body, the response to treatment, the propensity for recurrence and metastasis can vary significantly. The factors used to determine whether a cancer is malignant or not are also the same. The fundamental differences, however, relate to the philosophy of cancer treatment. The primary objective is to improve the quality and length of life. However, in animals, therapy is avoided when it carries too many side effects. In humans, every shortest moment of life is fought for, sometimes regardless of its quality. For us, the most important thing is the quality of life and, when treating, we need to be sure that the animal is not suffering but can enjoy its life.
However, this does not change the fact that we try (through skilful treatment planning) to extend survival time as much as possible. We do so, however, while maintaining the first condition.
All treatment decisions are intended to serve these purposes. They are a compromise of what can be done, what needs to be done and what the patient’s condition will allow, so that they can be with their family for as long as possible without suffering. In addition to treatment, we also try to help you make difficult decisions. As in humans, the moment of diagnosis and thus the degree of clinical progression is most important for our patients. Often cancers with a very high malignancy rate diagnosed early and treated have a successful prognosis.
Classification of tumours
Benign tumours Grow more slowly, do not infiltrate surrounding tissues (blood and lymphatic vessels) and do not metastasise via blood or lymph to lymph nodes and distant organs, and generally do not regrow after surgical removal. However, locally malignant tumours can be dangerous when they grow in areas that are difficult to access surgically or reach a significant size.
Malignant tumours Malignant tumour cells can invade blood and lymphatic vessels and other tissues. It is through this route that they often spread far from the main tumour mass, the so-called primary tumour. The cells end up nesting in various organs and tissues. There, under circumstances favourable to them, they begin to multiply and form a new tumour, called a metastasis.
Diagnosis and treatment
Diagnosis is the key to success in cancer treatment. Particularly in a situation like this where we are dealing with animals. We humans very often observe our body and react early to any worrying changes. In animals these changes are more difficult to observe. Hence the great importance we attach in our clinic to veterinary prophylaxis in oncology diagnosis.
We examine thoroughly every animal with suspected cancer. All examinations, whether imaging (X-ray, ultrasound, CT, MRI) or laboratory tests (morphological examination with smear, biochemical examination of blood, urine, faeces or, finally, cytological examination, HP examination of sections and whole lesions) are aimed at making the correct diagnosis. In addition to the type of tumour, they allow the degree of differentiation of the tumour to be determined (a degree that determines the malignancy of the tumour, thus the propensity for metastasis and recurrence) and the clinical stage of cancer (i.e. the stage of the disease – especially Lymphoma, mastocytoma or mast cell tumour). All this information provides the basis for a full diagnosis and an accurate strategy for further management.
The Kurosz Clinic’s diagnostic centre – sometimes in collaboration with laboratories abroad – performs tests that are necessary for cancer prevention and therapy. They are performed in both canine and feline cancer treatment:
- Morphology with blood smear
- Full biochemical examination
- Hormone testing
- X-ray – both overview and contrast
- Ultrasound – abdominal, heart, superficial structures, glands and other organs
- CT (computed tomography) – examination by computed tomography in our laboratory
- Fine needle aspiration biopsy (BAC) and thick-needle biopsies (TRUCUT) of tumours and internal organs – often the diagnosis can be made immediately, without having to wait for the result.
- Histopathological examination
- Immunohistochemical examination – lymphoma, mastocytoma, sarcoma, carcinoma
- Bone marrow collection and testing
Cancer treatment methods
We also offer a full range of cancer treatments, with therapeutic management very often based on a combination of these methods.
- Oncological surgery– surgical procedures to remove the tumour, sometimes also as adjunctive procedures to reduce the tumour mass. Read more here: veterinary surgical procedures at our clinic.
- Chemotherapy– the administration of anti-cancer drugs. Treatment is planned after a full diagnosis. The appropriate drugs and drug combinations are selected in relation to the type of cancer, clinical stage and the patient’s condition. We run a variety of single and multi-drug protocols (Lymphoma, mast cell tumour – mastocytoma).
- Radiotherapy– a method involving the application of ionising radiation.
- This method is unfortunately not available in Poland, which we deeply regret. If necessary, we refer patients to Slovenia or Germany for treatment after a full diagnosis (which reduces waiting times and costs).
Cancer therapy in our Clinic is administered by Dr Bartlomiej Kurosz, a specialist Radiologist and member of ESVONC.