Guide for Veterinary Surgeons Referring Patients for Radiation

At VRCC we offer a range of treatment protocols because cancer is not one condition and treatment will vary depending on the type of cancer, its location, stage and grade. The final decision as to treatment involves a number of considerations that need to be discussed with the client; these include issues of prognosis, expected side effects, logistics of treatment and finally the cost. This is why when you contact our radiotherapy service for advice we do ask that you provide us with the basic information regarding the case. This includes a BRIEF history, biopsy report and any information you have regarding tumour stage. The reason for this is so we can give you the most accurate information before your refer the case, but please remember that until we have assessed the patient ourselves we cannot always confirm that radiation is the best treatment or the protocol.

What we offer is a comprehensive treatment package of definitive and palliative protocols. These include:

Definitive protocols: These protocols are applicable to many forms of cancer including, for example, brain tumours, oral tumours, incompletely resected sarcomas, mast cell tumours and carcinomas. These protocols are daily treatments M-F for 16-20 treatments. Whether we recommend 16 or 20 treatments depends on the tumour and its location. More treatments are required when the tumour is located close to a vital structure and we want to reduce the risk of long term side effects. To achieve that we give even less radiation/dose and increase the number of doses (examples where we would consider a longer protocol would include tumours close to the rectum, and certain cases of intracranial disease). We offer boarding for patients that can be either M-F or for the compete course of treatment. These protocols offer the best long term control of tumours with reduced risk of long term complications from treatment.

Palliative protocols are available for some incompletely resected sarcomas, mast cell tumours and carcinomas etc. These are typically once a week for 4 weeks-for some locations we would not advise such a protocol. Other indications for such protocols are for large tumours that are not amenable to surgical excision or when other issues mean that intensive treatment would not be considered appropriate (in presence of extensive metastasis), however shrinking the primary would improve quality of life for the patient.

We offer radiation treatments for pain management; suitable patients include dogs with bone tumours either primary or secondary.

Other palliative protocols are also available especially for tumours of the head and neck and these consist of giving four treatments over 2 days and then repeating in 4 weeks up to a total of 3 cycles. Again the objective is to control the tumour locally but minimise side effects.


Prostatic carcinoma: For dogs with advanced prostatic carcinoma we currently offer radiation in addition to chemotherapy as a palliative treatment. Cases are accepted for radiation on a case by case basis and the patient must be evaluated by one of our oncology team prior to starting treatment.

Half-body radiation: This is available for consolidation of canine patients with lymphoma that have undergone chemotherapy. For a patient to be considered for treatment they must be under our care from the beginning of treatment.

Feline intestinal lymphoma: Radiotherapy is available for certain feline patients with intestinal lymphoma as part of a combination treatment protocol. Again the patient must be under our care for the entire course of treatment.

Nasal carcinomas (canine): Based on our CT staging we offer clients either a palliative protocol (once weekly for 4 weeks) or definitive treatment (16 treatments over 3 weeks). For dogs with advanced disease a palliative protocol is appropriate but for dogs with early disease a more intense protocol with the option of post treatment surgery offers a better long term prognosis.

GME: low dose whole brain radiation. This is available for patient not responding to medical management or for patients that have very severe signs in conjunction with medical management.

You can be certain that on referring a case to VRCC for radiotherapy the client and patient will receive the individual care and treatment plan that best combines the goal of treatment with the needs of the patient and client.