About The SASH Radiation Oncology Facility For Pets With Cancer

Learn more about our great cancer treatment facility for pets

SASH Sydney has installed the first linear accelerator with stereotactic capability, specifically for pets in Australia. This is consistent with our aim to offer advanced and outstanding oncology care to all veterinary patients. No longer will pets have to travel long distances under the cloak of secrecy or in the darkness of night, to private human facilities to get this advanced treatment.

The architecturally-designed and Radiation Service compliant facility uses a brand new Elekta Synergy linear accelerator to offer some of the most up-to-date radiation therapy available to pets anywhere in the world. The team includes Radiation Oncologist Valerie Poirier, Medical Oncologist Sandra Nguyen, Radiation Therapist Sonia Phelps, Oncology Resident Johanna Todd and Veterinary Nurse Jennifer Cowan – they will provide outstanding patient care in a welcoming and easily accessible facility.

It will sit alongside the medical oncology team of Veronika Langova and Sandra Nguyen (oncologists), Sophia Tzannes (internist), Penny Thomas (specialist) and Johanna Todd (resident) that currently provide the trusted and reliable 6 day a week service which many referring vets currently rely upon. Both oncology teams will work together to determine the best treatment solution based on type of cancer and the staging. The aim, as always in all cancer treatment, is to prolong survival whilst ensuring pain and general wellness is maintained as much as possible.

What are some of the more common tumour types treated with radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy can be effectively used for many cancers. It delivers high energy radiation to a specific area in the body which results in DNA damage and cancer cell death. Stereotactic treatment means higher doses of radiation therapy pinpointed to the cancer more effectively resulting in shorter treatment time.

Not all cancers respond to this type of treatment and may require the longer form of definitive treatment.

Cancers that respond to radiation therapy include:

  • Soft tissue sarcomas (incompletely excised or nonsurgical tumours)
  • Mast cell tumours (incompletely excised or nonsurgical tumours)
  • Oral tumours
  • Nasal tumours
  • Anal sac tumours
  • Brain and spinal cord tumours
  • Benign conditions such as acanthomatous epulis 

Treatment aim can be either curative, as for an incompletely excised soft tissue sarcoma, or palliative, for example where limb amputation for an osteosarcoma is not suitable.

What are the details of the treatment?

A definitive radiation treatment course is usually between 10 and 19 fractions or doses (daily Mon-Fri). Stereotactic treatments are much shorter and usually consist of 3-5 fractions. A palliative course may be once a week for 4 weeks. Individual fractions last between 20-45 minutes and involve anaesthetising the patient and precise positioning on the linear accelerator couch, which often includes pretreatment imaging using the CT within the linear accelerator.

What makes the machine at SASH so special?

The machine installed is a brand new Elekta Synergy Agility Linear Accelerator with stereotactic capability and many other advantages for treating cancer patients.

It has:

  • The most up-to-date technologically advanced machine available
  • The ability to provide stereotactic, definitive and palliative radiation with the one machine
  • On-site treatment, with no need for transport to and from the facility reducing the risk to recovering patients
  • Ability for patients to be treated as a ‘day procedure’ or to board for the length of their treatment course
  • Ability to treat very small areas with minimal effects on surrounding normal tissues
  • The ability to treat very large or multiple areas with varying energies
  • Faster treatment times = shorter anaesthesia times for our veterinary patients
  • Continuous dose monitoring via on board imaging and positioning devices to ensure that there is minimal damage to non-target structures

Contact SASH oncology services

Contact us to find out further information about this ground-breaking service that is now available to you. The service is also open to interstate patients and our team will be able to discuss options for transport.

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