College of Veterinary Medicine

Cancer in Animals

Coming to Washington State University


Bringing your pet to a veterinary teaching hospital (VTH) like WSU is a little different than seeing your local veterinarian. We are aware that most of our clients have had to travel long distances to reach us so we try to make things happen in a timely fashion, although some steps in your pet's evaluation can take longer than you are used to. Expect 1-1.5 hours for your initial appointment. You may be presented with lots of information and have choices to make. If you feel overwhelmed, please ask questions. The goal is to work with the WSU oncology team to decide what is best for your pet and yourself. If your appointment is with oncology, a board certified oncologist will be overseeing the care of your animal but you may meet some other people first.

If you are visiting the VTH for the first time, a student will always be assigned to you and your pet, and this will likely be the first person you meet. A student will greet you, take a history and perform a physical examination, and then leave the room to discuss your pets problems with a senior clinician. This may seem like a waste of time for you as the owner, but students often find problems on physical exams that a hurried clinician may miss. Moreover, every exam your pet receives increases the chances that previously unnoticed problems will be found. The student you see initially will then be responsible for your pet during the time your pet stays with us. Students tend to be very dedicated to the patients in their care and they make sure you are informed as well as to the status of your pet. Many students have an avid interest in Oncology. It may be an interest based only on the fact that they know this is a subject they will be dealing with once they enter practice life. For others, there is the possibility of actually specializing in the field. Many students take part on a voluntary basis in “Oncology Rounds”, a forum in which pets diagnosed with tumors are discussed in detail. Other students even volunteer for a six week rotation in oncology during the summer of their Junior year. Students are an integral part of a teaching hospital, and they can only learn if allowed to do things along with the doctors. The more they can learn in their time at WSU, the more they will be able to help clients whose pets have cancer- once they graduate.

You may also meet an intern or resident who takes the primary clinician role for your pet. The senior Oncologist will always be overseeing this person as well and cases are discussed in detail even if you have never met the oncologist your self. Interns and residents are still in a learning category and they tend to be quite eager at reading and keeping up on the latest information, but they would never take a step contrary to the senior oncologist’s advice. If your pet requires special diagnostics or surgery you may be introduced to the clinicians who will perform those procedures as well. Our goal is always to have you feel well informed, and speaking with those who will perform certain procedures may help you decide whether you want to take that step or not.

The VTH is well equipped with a laboratory, ultrasound, CT, and MR, endoscopy, and much more, so if a test is recommended chances are it can be done here. So, even though your appointment may seem to take forever, a complete work up can usually be done within a relatively short amount of time. Most procedures requiring anesthesia are done on the following day to be sure everything has been done ahead of time that needs to be done, including getting the procedures scheduled. These procedures include endoscopy, CT, and MRI as our patients won’t hold still for these unless they are sleeping.

The doctors are busy but will go to great lengths to find the time to properly deal with you and your pet. Phone consults or Email consults before you pet is seen are not possible. Every dog or cat, tumor, and owner are different and no one therapy can be recommended especially without seeing your pet. There are too many variables to consider and diagnosing or offering advice on therapy over the phone or Email is generally not beneficial to your or your pet.

Last Edited: Jan 27, 2009 9:21 AM   

Veterinary Teaching Hospital PO Box 647060 , Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-7060, 509-335-0711, Contact Us Safety Links