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Sookie’s Radiation Treatment

Published on April 24, 2023.
Last Updated April 24, 2023.
Sookie the Persian Cat 12 months post Radiation Treatment

Sookie is a 10-year-old Persian who underwent treatment for a large pituitary tumour at the SASH Cancer Centre just over a year ago. After lengthy research and a remote consultation with Dr Elias Gumpel, SASH’s Radiation Oncologist, Sookie and her family traveled from Melbourne, Victoria to SASH North Ryde for radiation therapy.

In February 2022, Sookie was diagnosed with a tumour of her pituitary gland in her brain. In the few months leading up to the diagnosis, she was noted by her owners to have developed significant behavioural alterations such as being much less active and interactive at home, urinating outside the litterbox, and eventually progressed to compulsive pacing and circling. The treatment options for a pituitary tumour in cats are either surgery (to remove the tumour, although not all patients are good candidates for this very delicate procedure) or radiation therapy (to shrink the tumour and improve/eliminate the neurologic symptoms caused by the tumour). Sookie was referred to SASH following this diagnosis to discuss the best options for her. Due to the large size of her tumour, radiation therapy was recommended as her best course of treatment (surgery was determined to be too risky for a tumour of this size in a cat’s brain).


The Linear Accelerator (LINAC) at SASH is unique and rather elite in that it has the capability to deliver stereotactic radiotherapy (aka SRT), in addition to more traditional forms of targeted radiotherapy delivery. While more traditional radiotherapy protocols involve anywhere from 6 to 20 radiation treatments to deliver the total dose as safely as possible, having the technical capabilities and expertise to perform SRT means that we can, in some patients, do a much more dose-intense protocol that delivers a large, highly targeted, and conformal dose of radiation with each individual treatment, over a total of just 3 treatments on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday basis. The radiation treatment planning software is used to generate a customised dose delivery plan for each patient. In Sookie’s case, this means that we were able to use both a brain MRI scan and a brain CT scan fused together to delineate her tumour volume with a high degree of precision to target the tumour volume and minimise the radiation dose to the surrounding normal brain to keep the risk of side effects to a minimum.

In late March 2022, Sookie underwent a total of 3 highly targeted, high dose stereotactic radiation treatments at the SASH Cancer Centre with Radiation Oncologist, Dr Elias Gumpel. Sookie’s treatments would not have been possible without the expertise of Veterinary Oncology Resident, Dr Nick Lai, Radiation Nurses Sharmaine and Casey, and of course, our dedicated Radiation Therapists, Rachel and Vanessa.

Sookie Living her Best Life
Living her best cat life

Over one year on, Sookie is doing well and remains stable with no signs of deterioration. We received a lovely update from her owners who mentioned some of Sookie’s quirky behaviours. We know all you cat lovers can likely relate to her quirks, which consist of:

  • Shouting at her owners in the morning to wake up and feed her
  • High fives for treaties
  • Climbing on furniture
  • Grooming herself
  • Zoomies up the stairs

Six months prior to her treatment with SASH, Sookie had stopped the above behaviours – further highlighting that her life was severely impacted by her tumour and without the intervention of the SASH Cancer Centre, her life may have been different. We’re so pleased that Sookie has a new lease on life and is living her best life!

High fives for treaties

Speak to your local veterinarian about a referral to the SASH Cancer Centre, or contact us for more information. More about the SASH Pituitary Centre here.

About the Author

Natasha Rizk

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SASH is home to some of Australia’s leading specialists and veterinary experts. If you have any concerns about your pet, please get in touch with us.

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