Generally, radiation therapy is a local therapy. At the AOI Center we use a modern linear accelerator with photon and electron radiation so that only the tumor and the surrounding tissues are irradiated, never the whole body. If the tumor has already extended to a regional lymph node, we have to include it into the radiation field. Irradiated tumor cells are destroyed. To protect healthy tissue and hit the tumor as much as possible, an accurate individual plan is prepared for each patient. The treatment is adjusted to the tumor type and the treatment goal. A curative radiation has the aim to heal a patient, whereas a palliative treatment alleviates clinical signs.
One fraction of radiation therapy lasts two to five minutes and is done under general anesthesia. The anesthesia is solely needed to immobilize the patient. After a short recovery time animals are discharged and can go home or they can be hospitalized here at the AOI Center for the treatment duration. Usually, several fractions are performed at individually selected intervals.
After the therapy, follow-ups can be done by the referring veterinarian or at the AOI Center. The first control is usually done 3 weeks after therapy, then every 3 months to identify complications or tumor regrowth as early as possible.
Radiation therapy is the second most important treatment option in tumor control, the first being surgery. Another often forgotten possible use of radiation therapy is for pain relief in case of bone or tendon problems such as arthritis and tendinitis. One to three radiation fractions can alleviate pain, especially if medical therapy is not effective.