Cat Bone Cancer Treatment With Feline Radiation Therapy

Bone cancer is less common in cats than it is in humans, but it can often be just as fatal. Radiation therapy is one option for fighting cancer in any organism, including cats. It is the process of killing cancer tissue through exposure to X-ray radiation. This radiation is similar to the kind used in X-ray photographs, but more X-rays are used and they are at a higher energy level. Radiation therapy has been known to defeat cancer on its own, but these cases are uncommon. It is more likely to be used in combination with other kinds of treatments.

Why Use Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy is used for localized regions of the body, because the X-rays can kill healthy cells as easily as cancerous ones. It is best in cases where chemotherapy is not needed because the cancer is not yet malignant, or when the tumor is too deep in the body to be removed through surgery, as is usually the case with bone cancer. It is also useful for reducing the size of a tumor before surgery or chemotherapy, or eliminating remaining cancer cells afterwards. When a tumor has become a part of a bone, it often cannot be removed through surgery because pieces of bone cannot be removed from the body without seriously compromising the cat's health.

How Long Does the Treatment Take?

In order to prevent unnecessary tissue damage, radiation therapy is often spaced out in separate sessions over the course of weeks. Different kinds of cancer require different amounts of treatment, so some cancers will only need a week of radiation therapy, while others can take more than two months. Generally, tumors that are greater in size require more sessions of radiation treatment, but more sessions are also used if the tumor is located deeper in the body. Treatment is usually administered three times per week, but that also depends on the factors mentioned above. Even after the end of radiation therapy treatment, regular checkups with a veterinarian are important to ensure that the treatment was effective.

Side Effects

Since the radiation simply kills tissue, and does not distinguish between cancerous cells and healthy tissue, the main side effect of radiation therapy is that healthy tissue in the region of the tumor is killed. Since it is extremely important for the cat to remain still while undergoing this procedure, anesthesia is necessary. Radiation therapy is also known to cause some side effects in the skin, including hair loss and radiation dermatitis, or an inflamed rash in the area of the treatment. If the radiation is administered to the abdominal area, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can also be side effects.

While radiation therapy is known to have some nasty side effects, it is one of the more effective ways of eliminating bone cancer. It is generally considered worth the risks because of the possible beneficial effects.