BVSC + Radiation Therapy
BVSC has a comprehensive trilogy of oncology services with surgical, medical and radiation oncology.

BVSCRTIcon+ Radiation Therapy at BVSC 

+ Radiation Oncology + Half Body Irradiation + Radiation Therapy For Arthritis 

Cancer has many forms and affects the body differently depending on the type, location, grade, and stage, among other things.  Having a Linear Accelerator which can deliver therapeutic, high-energy radiation right here at BVSC gives us remarkable power to effectively treat many cancers that would be otherwise untreatable.

BVSC SurgeryTeam2020

  + Meet the BVSC Radiation Therapy Team - from left: Kim Brown, Dr Rod StrawJulia Cathie, Zumie, Dr Kathryn BruceNathan Ellemor, Dr Darren Fry,  Momoko Ito.

 It is not just the amazing equipment and facility; it is the experience and expertise of our radiation therapy team that makes the magic happen.  Our team ensures the side effects are minimal, the animals’ quality of life is maximised, and owners and referring vets are empowered and remain advocates for our patients.  We surround our patients and referring vets to provide our signature specialty care with compassion, resulting in the best cancer treatment outcomes possible.

 + How is Radiation Therapy performed at BVSC?

Depending on tumour and patient variables, high energy beams of photons or electrons that disrupt the cancer cell DNA are accurately delivered in as few as three to as many as twenty fractions.  Sometimes the fractions are delivered on a daily basis and sometimes they are given weekly.  Our board- certified radiation oncologist, Dr Elias Gumpel, has years of experience and training allowing him to advise on the best prescription of radiation for each individual pet.

+ Which cancer types are treated with Radiation Therapy?

Some cancers can only be treated effectively with radiation, such as intranasal cancer and some brain cancers.  There are cancers that respond well to a combination of surgery and radiation, such as some soft tissue sarcomas and mast cell tumours.  Sometimes chemotherapy or other anticancer medications are used before, after, or in conjunction with radiation therapy depending on the cancer type, grade, and stage. Other cancers we may commonly treat with radiation include thyroid cancers, apocrine gland adenocarcinoma, melanoma, pituitary tumours, and many more.  Our radiation oncologist can help with advice on where radiation can be very effective and also advise when radiation may help decrease pain and be used in a palliative sense, such as for certain bone cancers.  Remember, we surround the patient with care, and our surgical, medical and radiation therapy team work in close collaboration to ensure we deliver specialist care with compassion.

+ Why should I choose BVSC as the place for my pet to be treated with radiation therapy?

A key reason is that we provide specialty care with compassion and we surround your pet with this care from all our team while keeping your family veterinarian involved and in the loop.  This is a team effort, and we know how important your pet is.  We have been treating animals with cancer for longer than anyone in Australia and our radiation therapy facility has been functioning continuously since November 2007, so we have more experience irradiating animal cancers than anybody in Australia.  We know how to look after your important family member and support you as well.  Another distinction is that our linear accelerator, which is dedicated for animal treatment, is on-site at BVSC.  Our radiation oncologist, radiation therapists, and the nursing team are right here.  There is no need to transport your pet to a human facility.  Our facility is designed to look after animals and your pet has direct access to all our specialist and expert teams if needed.  Oncology is what we do, and we are continuously improving, researching and developing newer and better ways to fight cancer. 

Radiation Therapy + Information Sheets

+ Frequently Asked Questions

+ What will my pet experience while undergoing Radiation Therapy?

When the radiation beam is on and directed at the patient, there is no feeling at all.  It is just like when you receive an X-ray at the hospital.  Accurate and repeatable positioning of the patient is absolutely critical, and the effectiveness of the treatment is partly predicated by accurate delivery of the radiation dose to exactly the same area each fraction.  To allow this to happen, our animal patients are irradiated while they are anaesthetised and comfortably placed in custom made cradles.  Anaesthesia is light enough just to keep your pet still, allowing animals to go home quickly after each fraction.

 + Are there any risks with anaesthesia?

While there is always some risk for any patient going under anaesthesia, there are several steps we take to minimise the risks such that the likelihood of any problem or complication is extremely unlikely.

+ Are there any side effects with Radiation Therapy?

We are very good at minimising the side effects in animals.  We can also predict what the effects will be because the planning process accurately calculates the radiation dose that the cancer and surrounding normal tissues will receive.  This allows our radiation oncologist to tell you almost exactly what the effects will be and to “dial down” and protect normal tissues wherever possible.  The predicted side effects, both acute and late effects, will be discussed and the ways to manage and minimise discomfort will be implemented.

+ Do pets receiving Radiation Therapy become ill?

Generally not - the systemic effects of radiation are avoided because the beam is accurately directed to a local or regional area.  Only the tissues in the beam are exposed to high energy radiation so there is virtually no effect on the entire body.

+ Are there any risks to me or my family when I take my pet home?

No.  Your pet will not be radioactive.  The radiation does not stay in the tissues or in the body and only effects the tissues within the beam field for the short period of time the beam is on.

+ Does the cancer die immediately?

Some cancer cells do die acutely after being irradiated, but most do not.  There is a cumulative effect of the radiation fractions, and eventually there is enough damage to the DNA of the cancer cells so that when the cancer cells try to divide, the DNA falls apart and the cells die.  Normal tissue cells have ways of repairing this DNA damage,  so the normal cells are much more likely to survive. Besides causing strand breaks in the DNA, radiation can also indirectly damage cells by interacting with oxygen in the tissues to form unstable oxygen species called free radicals.  These molecules can damage cells, including cancer cells, causing cell death.  Therefore, cancers with abundant oxygen supply are more likely to be damaged through this mechanism compared to cancers with a poor blood supply.

+ Do antioxidants help cure cancer and can I use these foods and products to help my pet who is receiving radiation therapy?

We advise our clients to avoid giving their pet antioxidants during a course of radiation therapy.  Antioxidants mop up the free radical oxygen species that play a role in killing cancer when tissue is irradiated.  These can be used after the radiation course is completed.

+ Does my pet need to stay overnight at the hospital?

Some animals receive their radiation in as few as three to five fractions generally separated by a week.  Usually, these animals only stay long enough to be evaluated, anaesthetised, treated and recover.  Typically,  this takes most of the morning, so they are ready to go home in the early afternoon.  For those animals being treated every day (Monday through Friday for 10 to 20 fractions),  the same applies but it does mean they need to be ready to receive their radiation dose every week day morning at about 7:30.  For pets who live a long way from BVSC, it is sometimes easier for them to stay overnight during the week.  For these patients, we have a special low price for the overnight stay. During their stay, they are well looked after. BVSC is staffed by our qualified and expert teams 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and our long distance patients who stay for the duration of their treatments  receive VIP care and special privileges.

+ Why should I choose BVSC as the place for my pet to be treated with radiation therapy?

A key reason is that we provide specialist care with compassion and we surround your pet with this care from all our team, while keeping your family veterinarian involved and in the loop at all times.  This is a team effort and we know how important your pet is to you and your family.  We have been treating animals with cancer for longer than anyone in Australia and our radiation therapy facility has been functioning continuously since November 2007,  so we have more experience irradiating animal cancers than anybody in Australia.  We know how to look after your important family member and support you as well.  Another distinction is that our linear accelerator, which is dedicated for animal treatment is on-site at BVSC.  Our radiation oncologist, radiation therapists, and the nursing team are right here.  There is no need to transport your pet to a human facility.  Our facility is designed to look after animals and your pet has direct access to all our specialist and expert teams if needed.  Oncology is what we do, and we are continuously improving, researching and developing newer and better ways to fight cancer. 

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