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Pet Scan For Cancer

pet scan for cancer

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death humans, dogs, and cats in the developed world. As with humans, cancer screening tests for dogs and cats will continue to advance, as new technologies emerge and more information becomes available, suggesting improved outcomes and quality of life. In companion animals, certain breeds are known to be predisposed to cancer. And since cancer is common in older dogs and cats, those over 7 or 8 years old should generally be considered “at risk.” Increasingly common general screening recommendations for geriatric animals include biannual physical exams, laboratory bloodwork, and urinalysis. Additionally, using cutaneous maps to record the location, size, and diagnosis of skin masses can help monitor for rapid growth changes or new masses of concern. Let’s talk about the importance of a pet scan for cancer.

Pet parents should be proactive in cancer prevention and regular screening. Early neutering of male and female dogs is a prime example of cancer prevention. Dogs can also develop upper respiratory and lung cancer from exposure to second-hand smoke, so they should be kept away from such environments. Parents should closely observe their pets’ nutrition and diet, bowel and urinary habits, and learn to examine mammary glands, peripheral lymph nodes, oral cavities, interdigital spaces, and external ear canals. More extensive screening recommendations will depend on the pet parent’s concern for early detection, financial considerations, and the proven benefits of early screening. Recommendations for thoracic radiographs, abdominal ultrasound, colonoscopy, and even CT/MRI of the nasal cavity and brain may be appropriate if early diagnosis improves outcomes for serious cancers.

The Cancer Risk Assessment (CRA) is a blood test designed to screen apparently healthy dogs for early signs of cancer and to determine if a dog is in a biological state that promotes the development of neoplasia. This effective test is specifically designed for screening seemingly normal dogs for cancer. Early detection leads to more treatment options and better outcomes. The CRA uses the same biomarkers as our cancer panels: Thymidine Kinase Type 1 (TK1), a proliferation marker, and C-Reactive Protein (CRP), a high-sensitivity inflammatory marker. When abnormal cell proliferation and inflammation are present, the risk of cancer increases.

The Cancer Risk Assessment was developed based on the understanding that while transient acute inflammation is protective, chronic inflammation is the root cause of many illnesses and can promote cancer. Although the CRA is designed to detect cancer early, it is also valuable for detecting chronic inflammation, which can be managed before serious diseases develop. Testing for the CRA should be part of the annual or bi-annual checkup for dogs, especially those at high risk of developing cancer. The CRA can be added to any wellness panel offered by VDI Laboratories or included as part of the Canine Complete Wellness Panel.

A veterinarian can utilize a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan to detect cancer and inflammation in dogs and cats. PET scans are frequently combined with a CT scan, which employs radiation to create detailed images of a specific body area. During a PET/CT scan, a contrast agent is administered intravenously (IV) to the pet to highlight areas of increased blood flow. The CT images aid in interpreting the PET data, and the combined images are then sent to a veterinary specialist for review.

Early cancer screening for dogs and cats is a fundamental aspect of responsible pet parenting, symbolizing a commitment to the overall health and happiness of our loyal companions. The numerous benefits, including early detection, improved outcomes, cost-effective care, emotional resilience, and extended quality of life, highlight the importance of incorporating early cancer screening into our pets’ healthcare routine.

As advocates for our four-legged family members, embracing early cancer screening is not just a medical necessity but also an expression of love and devotion. It demonstrates our dedication to providing the best possible care for our beloved pets, who bring joy and unconditional love into our lives. Proactive, early cancer screening is a hallmark of responsible pet parenting, ensuring a brighter, healthier future for our cherished canine and feline companions.

Petworks Pet Care Services
Petworks Co-Founder Kevin Kinyon is a life-long animal lover who works tirelessly to improve the lives of pets and their parents. Human and animal qualities he values most are integrity, humor, and empathy.