Who really controls Cancer?

In cancer, cells undergo a series of mutations leading to immortality. Cell division occurs uncontrolled, leading to tumor growth. In it’s final stages, cancer spreads throughout the body, ultimately leading to death of the host.   This leads me to think of cancer as the ultimate betrayal by one’s own body. Little can be done … Continue reading Who really controls Cancer?

How to make the most of your appointment with a Veterinary Specialist

As a veterinary specialist, I rely on a steady stream of referrals to keep my schedule full and maintain an active caseload. Sometimes pets are referred by their primary veterinarian, or another specialist, and in other cases, owners refer themselves.   As soon as the appointment is booked, we begin requesting the animal’s medical records … Continue reading How to make the most of your appointment with a Veterinary Specialist

The darker side of medicine…

I recently read an article (http://goo.gl/oBdfWm) written by a human physician about her personal feelings and other people’s reactions to her decision to quit practicing medicine.   The author frames the article around how her choice was made after she recognized how detrimental her career was to her own health. The irony of a doctor … Continue reading The darker side of medicine…

In memory of a weird dog…

This week marked the passing of a particularly special oncology patient and I wanted to use this entry as a means to tell his story.   It may sound cliché when we say each and every one of our patients are important to us, but it really is true. We do not discriminate, even when our … Continue reading In memory of a weird dog…

The inhumane side of human medicine…

I recently had an appointment with my dermatologist to examine a small lump on the back of my right knee.   I arrived exactly at the scheduled time of 1:45pm. When I stepped up to the receptionist, rather than be asked my name, I was abruptly questioned, “Do you have an appointment?” I was then … Continue reading The inhumane side of human medicine…

How biased are you?

One aspect of veterinary oncology that makes it difficult to talk with owners about the expected survival time of their pets is something called “euthanasia bias.” Or, as I like to phrase it, “What one owner will tolerate, another will not.” It’s something that especially confounds my ability to predict a patient’s outcome for a … Continue reading How biased are you?

“What happens when we don’t do anything?”

This is a natural question to ask when presented with an abundance of treatment options for a pet recently diagnosed with cancer. It’s easy to understand how, regardless of tumor type, in order to make the most informed decision about what is the correct choice for their companion, owners need to know the theoretical choices … Continue reading “What happens when we don’t do anything?”

Are you average, or are you just median?

Doctors often interchange the word “average” for “median”, when discussing survival times for patients with cancer, but in reality, these are two different terms with two very different meanings.   People are most familiar with the definition of an “average” from their time spent in academic classes, where a numerical average of test scores translated … Continue reading Are you average, or are you just median?

Answers to the top 5 questions from owners of pets with cancer:

1. What caused my pet’s cancer? The short answer to this question in many cases is “We don’t know”.  I recognize this is a heated question in veterinary medicine and owners are inundated with theoretical causes of cancer (in people and an animals) in the media, in print, and on the Internet.   In general, the … Continue reading Answers to the top 5 questions from owners of pets with cancer:

When specialization becomes too specialized

The common cancers we see in companion animals (e.g. lymphoma and mast cell tumors) are what I affectionately refer to as the “bread and butter” of a veterinary oncologist’s therapeutic repertoire. There’s a wealth of available information about the ideal ways to treat those diseases and solid information regarding prognosis and outcome for the majority … Continue reading When specialization becomes too specialized