QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR VET
Some veterinary hospitals offer chemotherapy, but they are not cancer specialists (oncologists). We URGE you to take your dog to a cancer specialist for treatment. (See Destiny's Story.) Cancer is a life threatening illness. You MUST gather as much information as possible before making a decision as to which treatment will be best for your dog. As the owner and caretaker, it is your obligation to ask your dog's veterinary oncologist to explain EVERYTHING about your dog's condition before you give permission for a particular treatment. If your dog's veterinarian or oncologist is unable or unwilling to provide you with this information GO ELSEWHERE! Your dog's health is YOUR responsibility. Your decision on treatment should be a joint one made with your dog's oncologist AFTER you have all the facts. GET THEM! Here are some of the questions you should be asking. Cancer is a devastating diagnosis and an extremely emotional issue for the owner. Therefore, it is suggested that you take a notepad and pencil to the oncologist's office so that you can write down what he tells you, and review it when you get home. If you can, take a friend who can also listen to what is said at the meeting. Make sure you call the veterinarian oncologist again if you are unclear about anything he has told you after you review your notes. DO NOT be shy about doing this. You are paying the bill, and your dog's life is at stake.
1) What type of cancer does the dog have?
1a) Was this confirmed by a biopsy? If No, how was the type of cancer confirmed?
2) If this cancer IS categorized by stages:
2a) Explain the definition of the stage and how it differs from the other possible stages.
3) If this cancer is NOT categorized by stages:
3a) Is the cancer localized or has it spread?
4) If localized, is this type of cancer likely to spread?
4a) If likely to spread, how fast will this typically happen?
4b) If it has already spread, how did the veterinarian oncologist determine this (i.e., what tests were done to show this)?
4c) What organs have already been affected?
5) If the cancer is localized at the moment, what is the typical progression of this type of cancer (i.e., what organs does it attack)?
6) If no treatment is given, what kind of time does the dog have?
7) Is there treatment available for this type of cancer?
8) If Yes, explain ALL types of treatment available (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, Tall-104, Photodynamic therapy or others).
9) What side effects or risks are associated with each treatment option?
10) Which treatment does the veterinarian oncologist recommend?
10a) Tell Have the veterinarian oncologist to explain WHY this treatment or\par combination of treatments is better for your dog than the others.
10b) Tell the oncologist you want to see studies that support his viewpoint with statistical data. (If they are not handy, tell him/her to get them for you.)
10c) If he/she has no supporting studies, ask upon what are they he is\par basing their recommendation?
11) What is the charge for the treatment?
12) Is a payment plan available?
If the veterinary oncologist is recommending chemotherapy:
1) Which drug or combination of drugs does the oncologist recommend and WHY is this protocol better for my the dog's cancer than the other available chemotherapy combinations?
2) What are the possible side effects?
3) What can be done to limit or eliminate side effects from the chemotherapy?
4) How many treatments are usually planned?
5) How can you tell when remission has been achieved?
6) Will treatments be stopped as soon as remission is achieved? 6a) If Not - - why not?
7) What is the average remission time using this protocol?
7a) Does the veterinarian oncologist have statistical studies that show this is the case you can see that show average remission times using the various protocols?
7b) If no studies are available, where is the veterinarian oncologist getting the information on longevity?
8) If the dog does not respond to the protocol being suggested, what is the back-up plan for treating the dog?
9) What are the signs that the dog has come out of remission?
10) When the dog comes out of remission, what can be done?
11) What is the average second remission time if chemotherapy is used again? 12) Ask the oncologist to recommend a "competent" holistic veterinarian who will work with you to provide a program to enhance the dog's nutrition.
One basic answer that is consistent with a good vet is that the treatment may always be altered along the way. You must treat each case individually, and if one thing doesn't work there ARE other chemo drugs and combos that can be tried! If you are told otherwise GO TO ANOTHER VET!