Jeff Feinman VMD, CVH — Weston, Connecticut — Call: 203.222.7979
Radiation, when used at energies that are a thousand times the energies used to produce a chest X-ray, can kill cells. Both normal and cancer cells are affected, but radiation treatment is intended and designed to maximize tumor effect and minimize normal tissue effect. Maximizing tumor effect is one reason that radiation treatments are given as a series of many small doses, rather than a few large doses.
Radiation therapy is used to treat localized disease. It can be used in the management of cancers that cannot be treated successfully by surgery or chemotherapy alone. Typically, it is employed following surgery when there are tumor cells remaining after excision, either because of the biology of that cancer and the nature of its growth, or because complete surgical removal would involve a very extensive procedure involving vital structures. In some instances, radiation therapy may be employed before surgery or chemotherapy in an attempt to shrink a tumor down to a more manageable size. Radiation therapy can offer, in some instances, permanent control of a tumor.
Even when a cure is not possible, radiation therapy can still bring some relief. Shrinking a large tumor with radiation therapy may improve a pet's quality of life by reducing pressure, bleeding, or pain. This is called palliative treatment.
Any illness, be it cancer or a benign disease, will have an impact on the patient's metabolism. During disease, there are many changes in the way the body uses proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It is important to realize that, for the most part, these are adaptations that are geared toward survival. In effect, the body is prioritizing its available nutrients for purposes like wound healing and maintaining the immune system. Sometimes, these metabolic changes can become exaggerated or prolonged to the point that they are harmful rather than beneficial to the patient. Significant weight loss and muscle wasting can occur rapidly and can be difficult or even impossible to reverse.
NB-When your pet has cancer it is especially critical to feed a fresh food diet. S/he needs all of the nutrients and vitality of real food. Avoid carbohydrates as they are the favorite nutrient of cancer cells. NO KIBBLE! Fats and protein is most important. Palatability of a raw meat diet can be increased by lightly searing the meats and adding immune-enhancing spices like cayenne and tumeric (if your pet likes and can tolerate them). Fish oils, antioxidants, etc. are all helpful. These are the supplements that I use for cancer patients in my practice: --Dr. Jeff