New treatment for animal cancer

Cancer is the leading cause of dog and cat deaths in Australia. Image: Shutterstock

A new software program could help veterinary oncologists target cancer cells more accurately.

Three-dimensional (3D) treatment planning can be used to target cancerous cells in animals — one in four dogs will develop tumours at some stage in their life. The software configures a 3D view of the tumour, allowing radiation oncologists to accurately target the cancerous cells and not harm the surrounding healthy tissue. This will reduce toxicity and improve the destruction of cancerous cells.

The software is a giant leap forward in oncology treatment for animals in Australia, according to Dr Rod Straw, founder of Brisbane Veterinary Specialist Centre (BVSC) and a leading veterinary specialist. BVSC is the first veterinary provider in Australia to use 3D treatment planning to target cancer in animals.

“This software will dramatically close the gap between oncology treatments on offer to humans, and those available to our pets,” Straw said in a statement. “We will now be able to marry the CT images with the radiation treatment delivered by our linear accelerator.”

Straw recently diagnosed Cocoa, an 11-year-old female Border Collie, with nasal cancer. The technology connected the CT scanner at BVSC to the powerful 3D planner and produced a radiation plan for Cocoa that could not have been calculated using previous methods.

Straw predicts an optimistic outcome from Cocoa’s radiation therapy. “This is a breakthrough in our ability to treat animals with cancers like brain tumours, intranasal cancer and other deep seated cancers we could not previously treat accurately,” he said.

“Our 3D planner has been tailored to our linear accelerator by expert physicists from Premion ensuring the same accuracy expected when treating human cancers.”

The software was developed by Pinnacle, a branch of Philips Healthcare.

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