Frequently asked questions what happens after treatment
Does cancer always cause pain?
Being affected by cancer does not always mean having pain. Whether a pet has pain depends on the type of cancer, the extent of the disease and the individual pet's tolerance of pain. Most pain occurs when the cancer grows and presses against bones, organs or nerves. Pain may also be a side effect of treatment. However, pain can generally be relieved or reduced with medication.
What about nutrition?
Your pet needs enough calories to maintain a good weight. Your pet also needs enough protein to remain strong. Eating well may help your pet feel better and have more energy. Sometimes your pet may not feel like eating. Your pet may be uncomfortable or tired. Your pet may find that foods do not taste as good as they used to; warming the food or adding sauces and gravies may help increase intake. In addition, the side effects of treatment (such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or mouth sores) can be a problem. If your pet is having trouble chewing and swallowing, you may need to puree the food.
Many owners want to know how they can help their pet fight cancer by eating certain foods or taking vitamins or supplements. Unfortunately, there are no studies that prove that any special diet, food, vitamin, mineral, dietary supplement, herb or combination of these can slow the growth of cancer or keep it from coming back. In fact, some products can cause other problems by changing how your cancer treatment works. It is best to talk to your veterinary surgeon before putting your pet on a special diet or giving any supplements.
What is remission?
Complete remission (CR) is defined as when the tumour can longer be detected. This can be based on physical size or by imaging with radiography or ultrasound. Unfortunately, complete remission is not the same as a cure. The smallest mass that can be detected by radiographs is about 5-10 mm whilst CT scans can detect down to 1- mm although this may still represent up to a million cells.
Partial remission (CR) is defined as a reduction in size by more than 50%. Static or stable disease is defined as change in size (smaller or larger) of less than 25% and progressive disease is defined as increase in size of more than 25%. Using these definitions helps your vet to define the next course of action.
What is prognosis?
The definition of prognosis is to make a prediction of the probable course and outcome of a disease. The likelihood or chance of recovery from a disease, based on the available evidence.
Certain factors can affect the prognosis and treatment options, including age, general health, presence of concurrent conditions, whether this is the first diagnosis or recurrence, etc.
Prognosis is usually expressed as a probability of survival sometime after diagnosis, such as the one-year survival rate being the probability of surviving for 1year from the time of diagnosis. Alternatively, it can be expressed as the period of time that has passed until 50% of the patients are still alive, and this is the median survival time (MST).
Very few prospective studies have been published about pets with cancer. Therefore, most of the information available on how well animals do after being diagnosed with cancer comes from studies that follow a series of cases.