My pet has been diagnosed with cancer. What do I do now?
First…take a breath. You have just received some devastating news. Although cancer is the leading cause of death in older cats and dogs, there are treatment options available. The Oncology Service is committed to providing state-of-the art diagnostics and individualized patient care, while still keeping quality-of-life as the top priority.
Advances in veterinary cancer treatments are made every day and many types of cancers are very treatable. In fact, dogs and cats with cancer are living months or even years longer than they would have with the same types of cancers just a few years ago. Many cancers in animals, while still very serious, can largely be managed as “chronic conditions” with ongoing surveillance and/or treatment, similar to the way veterinarians treat heart disease, kidney disease, or diabetes.
The oncology service’s primary goal is to preserve your pet’s quality of life for as long as possible. We do not believe in preserving life at any cost, but will customize a protocol specifically for your pet. We also prioritize the needs (emotional and practical) of the human portion of the family, ensuring that your entire family is treated honorably and compassionately.
Ask your primary care veterinarian to arrange a referral to the VMC’s Oncology Service today.
Who will I need to see at VMC?
Dr. Kenneth Rassnick, the Veterinary Oncologist at VMC, is a board certified specialist in Oncology.
What is a Veterinary Oncologist?
A veterinarian certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine specifically in the specialty of Oncology.
Is there another veterinary oncologist available in the Syracuse area?
No. Dr. Rassnick is the only board certified veterinary oncologist in the greater Syracuse area.
Oncology Service at VMC:
The VMC Oncology Service provides a variety of state-of-the art diagnostic services for pets with cancer. Examples include cytology, biopsy, digital radiographs, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan, and bone marrow testing. There is also ready access to advanced diagnostics such as flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry and immunocytochemistry. These comprehensive services help to develop the best treatment plan for your pet with cancer.
Your pet’s care on the VMC’s Oncology service is further enhanced the VMC’s other specialty services, particularly:
- 24-hour availability takes away the worry that your pet will have complications after hours or when Dr. Rassnick is not available. These services are available, educated, and have access to your pet's oncology history, should your pet experience complications.
- Patients move fluidly and rapidly between the Oncology and Surgical Services, ensuring that tumors and masses are removed and appropriate treatment is administered right away.
- Our Pain Management Center at CARE Pet Therapy combines pharmaceutically based pain control with gentle physical rehabilitation, massage and acupuncture. This service works closely with all services to develop individual protocols for your pet.
In addition to these services, the Oncology Service will make sure you and your pet will have access to a full-range of care including Internal Medicine and Nutrition consultations. In addition to your pet’s medical needs, we are also committed to supporting the social and emotional needs of you and your family.
The mission of the Oncology Service is to provide cutting-edge treatments for your pet with cancer, while focusing on quality-of-life. The VMC Oncology Service has numerous, up-to-date chemotherapy protocols to treat a wide-range of cancers. The melanoma vaccine (Oncept®), and targeted drugs such as Palladia® and Masitinib® are also available. Radiation therapy is not offered on-site. Dr. Rassnick can provide consults regarding the potential usefulness of radiation in your pet’s treatment program. It may be beneficial in certain cases, and we can assist you in obtaining this treatment for your pet if appropriate.
What to expect if your pet is referred to the Oncology Service:
The professional staff at the VMC offers pet owners experience and expertise, dedicated customer service and compassionate individualized care for your pet with cancer. The oncology consultation will provide you with information and peace of mind so that you can make the best possible choices for your family and your pet.
Initial oncology consultations usually take one hour. During that time your, pet’s complete medical history is reviewed and a comprehensive physical examination is performed. You will meet with Dr. Rassnick during the consultation and will discuss his recommendations for further diagnostics and/or treatments. With the exception of diabetic pets, no food should be given after 10 pm the evening before your pet’s initial oncology appointment, as some diagnostic tests can only be performed and accurately interpreted when pets are fasted. You should continue to allow your pet to have free access to water.