Family Dog Feeling Better Thanks to High-Tech Cancer Treatment

24/08/2020

A much-loved pet has been successfully treated for aggressive cancer thanks to a high-tech therapy technique used for the first time in the UK...
 
Ralph, a five-year-old Gordon Setter, is responding well to state-of-the-art radiotherapy for a tumour in his nose.

Vets used a specialised radiation beam sculpted into the exact shape of the tumour to treat the family dog. Ralph is now back home in Lanark and enjoying life.

Prior to the treatment, Ralph was referred to vets with repeated nosebleeds. Tests confirmed a growth in his nose.

The tumour was affecting Ralph’s breathing and without treatment could have quickly posed a threat to his life.

Ralph was the first pet in the UK to be treated using an advanced technique, known as intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), which was delivered by a linear accelerator machine called Vital Beam.

The machine – based at the University of Edinburgh’s Hospital for Small Animals – delivers therapy to cancer cells using a powerful radiation beam.

IMRT is used to safely deliver precise radiation to tumours whilst minimising the risk to surrounding healthy tissue. Up until now it has only been available in human medicine in the UK.

Thanks to the technique, the healthy tissue around Ralph’s tumour, including his brain and eyes, was only mildly affected which led to limited side effects compared with standard treatment.

Following treatment, Ralph’s tumour has shrunk considerably, his nose bleeds have stopped and he is once again living a dog’s life to the full.

The vet team who treated Ralph say that although the nasal tumour may come back, his radiation treatment has ensured the best quality of life possible.

Magdalena Parys, a radiation oncology specialist vet from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, said: “We are fortunate to have cutting-edge technology available for our patients. This advanced technology allows us to spare much more of normal healthy tissue, and gives us the ability to increase radiation doses to tumours. Our primary goal is to fight cancer but at the same time improve or maintain a good quality of life. We are delighted with Ralph’s progress and hope he will enjoy a good quality of life for a long time with his loving owners.”

Jenna Forbes, Ralph’s owner, said: “The Dick Vet team were reassuring at a scary time and had such determination to fight for Ralph. We knew he was getting the best care possible and after his treatments we always brought home a dog that had been well cared for. His condition is significantly better now. We have such confidence in everyone at the Dick Vet, they are a dream team.”

Image © University of Edinburgh

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