What is a board-certified veterinary oncologist?

My goal for this website is to provide pet owners with factual information regarding the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pets and to delve into the complicated emotional aspects surrounding cancer care in animals. While this will always be my main focus, I wanted to revisit the basics of veterinary specialty care and help … Continue reading What is a board-certified veterinary oncologist?

Why is my veterinarian NOT recommending chemotherapy?

The results of a study titled “Survey of UK-based veterinary surgeons’ opinions on the use of surgery and chemotherapy in the treatment of canine high-grade mast cell tumour, splenic haemangiosarcoma and appendicular osteosarcoma” were recently published. The study examined what percent of general veterinarians recommended chemotherapy for the three specific tumor types listed in the … Continue reading Why is my veterinarian NOT recommending chemotherapy?

Can’t you just give me the “chemo pill?”

I’ve been a major slacker lately when it comes to writing articles. I blame the fact that a few months back, the staff at PetMD cut back on asking me for contributions, therefore reducing my incentive (read: deadlines) for completing my tasks. My absence doesn’t stem from a lack of thought. I still possess a … Continue reading Can’t you just give me the “chemo pill?”

When you can’t make up your mind…

During nearly every consultation, there comes a time where pet owners must make the decision whether to pursue chemotherapy or not. While a small number of people arrive assured that they will treat their pets, more frequently owners arrive with an open mind to the available options, searching for all possible choices before moving forward. … Continue reading When you can’t make up your mind…

When veterinarians care too much…

Compassion fatigue is known by many alternative terms: vicarious traumatization, secondary traumatic stress, secondary stress, and even second-hand shock. Most often, we associate compassion fatigue with the emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events. Every person working in a “helping profession” is at risk for … Continue reading When veterinarians care too much…

The good thing about science is…

While recently searching for information on the role of evidence-based information in medical decision-making, I came across the following quote by Neil DeGrasse Tyson: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” My initial impression of the statement was one of complete agreement. I approach both my … Continue reading The good thing about science is…

You never forget your first…

His name was Ali, as in Mohammed Ali. He was a handsome 1½-year-old tan and white Boxer with a sweet and playful disposition and a ton of energy crammed into the tiny makeshift exam room. Though Ali was only one of dozens of dogs evaluated at the Southside Healthy Pet clinic that evening, I’d forever … Continue reading You never forget your first…

Brain tumors in dogs and cats

One of the less common cancers I’m asked to consult on are brain tumors. Though such tumors occur with fair frequency in both cats and dogs, optimal diagnostic and treatment plans are not well established. Thus brain tumors are considered a challenging disease for both veterinary neurologists and oncologists. Brain tumors are either primary or … Continue reading Brain tumors in dogs and cats

It won’t hurt to try? Or will it?

There are many gray areas in veterinary cancer care. Rarely am I certain that a particular treatment option or surgical strategy or chemotherapy protocol is “the absolute best” plan of action for any given patient. My uncertainty stems not from a lack of knowledge or experience; it arises from a dearth of evidence based information … Continue reading It won’t hurt to try? Or will it?

My vet did all these tests and we still don’t know anything…

Diagnostic tests are essential to my daily activities as a veterinary oncologist. For example: I require a complete blood count (CBC) test before every chemotherapy treatment. I analyze results from fine needle aspirates and biopsies in order to formulate therapeutic plans. I use radiographs (x-rays) to look for metastasis (spread) of cancer to internal organs. … Continue reading My vet did all these tests and we still don’t know anything…

Why does my vet take my dog to the back?

You’ve arrived for your appointment with your veterinarian and you’re nervous as to how the visit will go. Your dog started vomiting last night, and is unusually quiet at home. You know he needs to be seen by a doctor, but are worried about his anxiety level as he isn’t a huge fan of visiting … Continue reading Why does my vet take my dog to the back?

When both the owner and their pet have cancer…

A surprisingly large number of owners of the pets I see with cancer are cancer survivors themselves. Aside from how unusual I find it when people are willing to share their personal medical histories with me, I usually also feel a particular pang of sadness for their situation. My expertise lies in diagnosing and treating … Continue reading When both the owner and their pet have cancer…

A letter to myself as a first year resident in medical oncology

Dear me (you), I’m writing to you from the future—approximately ten years from where you are now. You’re a few months into your medical oncology residency, just beginning to assimilate to the flow of your daily responsibilities as a doctor committed to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. You hate living in upstate New York, … Continue reading A letter to myself as a first year resident in medical oncology

Have you always wanted to be a veterinarian, but couldn’t because of this one thing???

When someone I’ve met for the first time discovers I’m a veterinarian, reactions vary from detached amusement to wild-eyed enthusiasm. The latter is far more common as there appears to be unexplainable mystique and awe surrounding veterinary medicine as a career choice. About one in five people I meet will exclaim, upon hearing what I … Continue reading Have you always wanted to be a veterinarian, but couldn’t because of this one thing???

What’s the one thing I absolutely cannot do my job without?

What tool is most critical for you to complete your job to your best and most efficient capability? If you’re a graphic designer, is it a lightning fast computer processor equipped with the latest software? If you’re a pilot, is it a state of the art turbine engine propelling a multi-million dollar aircraft? If you’re … Continue reading What’s the one thing I absolutely cannot do my job without?