Intensity-modulated radiation therapy is an advanced treatment that has until now only been available for humans in the UK but was used for the first time on a Gordon setter dog whose name is Ralph. Ralph started to have nosebleeds and it was discovered that they were caused by an aggressive tumour in his nose.
This advanced technique allows the doctors to target the tumour far more accurately which in turn allows them to intensify the beam without damaging the surrounding tissue to the same extent as occurs with normal radiation therapy.
Without the treatment Ralph’s tumour would have threatened his life. The treatment took place at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. The radiation is delivered by the Vital Beam machine.
Magdalena Parys, a radiation oncology specialist from the vet school at the University said that they are fortunate to have such cutting edge technology and, “This advanced technology allows us to spare much more of the normal healthy tissue, and gives us the ability to increase radiation doses to tumours”.
She is very pleased with Ralph’s progress and hopes that he enjoys a good quality of life going forward.
Jenna Forbes, Ralph’s owner said that the veterinary team who treated him were reassuring during a scary time and that she has every confidence in the team. She described them as the “dream team”.
It is used in the USA and has been for a while:
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Study on the clinical outcome in dogs with nasal tumours treated with intensity-modulated radiation therapy
The study was conducted in Canada and published in The Canadian Veterinary Journal wesbite. The study was conducted because there was little information about the success rate of this treatment in dogs although it is a known valuable tool in human radiation oncology.
The treatment focused on canine nasal tumours as a good starting point. Nasal tumours have a poor response to chemotherapy. Surgery is difficult because of inaccessibility. And tumours in the nose are close to sensitive structures such as eyes, brain and the oral cavity.
They concluded that tumour control was “acceptable”. The outcomes were similar to those previously published. They also concluded that “moderate to severe side effects were uncommon except in the eye ipsi-lateral to the bulk of the tumour and in the skin of patients that had a facial deformity, which implies that [the treatment] cannot be used to spare tissues that are intimately associated with the tumour”.
The success of the treatment is qualified by which I mean there are limits to its success rate. But it “could be used to treat canine nasal tumours with higher cumulative doses of radiation without increasing acute or delayed toxicity beyond levels that are currently considered acceptable”.