IS ANIMAL CANCER MORE FREQUENT THAN IT USED TO BE?
It appears that, as in humans and in animals, an increased incidence of cancer may occur. It is not clear why this is so. However, quite a number of factors play a distinct role. On the one hand, it is a so-called civilization disease - as well as humans and animals, the environment in which they live is the same. We breathe automotile fumes, eat prefabricated meals, we melt in plastics. In addition, animals, especially dogs and cats, live with us in ever closer contact, and we can easily notice the changes in their health. Our pets get to the vet more often than that they ever did. Earlier most dogs lived without attention in the yard. Last but not least, as with people, medicine is fast moving forward. Today we have very similar possibilities in veterinary medicine as in human medicine. So we are able to detect diseases that could not be detected earlier and we can treat these diseases.
IS IT ETHICAL, TO TREAT ANIMALS WITH CANCER?
Cancer, or tumors, are a large number of types in animals, just like in humans. We are able to completely cure some of them, some not. However, even in those cases that can not be fully cured, we can effectively help these animals and extend their life quality. There are a lot of other, non-cancer diseases that can not be fully cured, yet they are commonly treated. These include, for example, certain types of diabetes or heart disease. For these diseases, nobody usually wonders to treat the animal, although it may be an incurable disease. On the other hand, in oncological diagnoses, we often encounter a rejection attitude to any treatment, even if the principle is the same - to allow the animal to live a normal life without suffering.
TREATMENT OF HUMAN AND ANIMAL ONCOLOGICAL PATIENTS IS NOT THE SAME
Here we come to the main point of concern - and this is a comparison of the principles of human and veterinary oncology. For people, the primary goal of the treatment is, if possible, complete cure – that is why treatment is often done in a rather drastic way. One often has to spend months in the hospital on the bed to be able to handle the undergoing treatment. On the other hand, the targets in our animal patients are different! No one wants the animal to suffer for a few months in the hospital, separated from its owners. The goal of animal treatment is to have a quality life without suffering. That is why the treatment is chosen such that the dog or cat does not undergo any or minimal suffering, but on the contrary we want the treatment to get the animal to live its normal dog or cat life. At a time when it is not possible, we usually approach euthanasia in veterinary medicine so that the animal does not suffer.
DO ALL VETERINARIES KNOW HOW TO TREAT CANCER, OR ARE THERE SPECIALIST AS IN HUMAN MEDICINE?
Most veterinarians in the Czech Republic are dealing with so-called general veterinary medicine, just like human surgeons. The modern trend is the specialization of veterinary surgeons. We firmly believe that veterinarians should specialize and that this is the right way. The logic of the subject can not be understood in all disciplines of medicine. The Human Physician, if he suspects any major problem, will immediately send you for a specialist exam. Veterinarians should work similarly- if the general veterinarian suspects cancer, he or she should send you with your pet to veterinary oncologist. The animal should receive adequate medical care. We ourselves are trying to go this way and we would be happy if more and more veterinarians looked at this issue alike.