Radiation Oncology

Vet Oncologists providing cancer treatment for dogs, cats and small animals

Please visit our “Animal Cancer Centre” page to find out more information on the comprehensive oncology service we offer for dogs, cats and small animals. 

1. Radiation Therapy

2. Which Tumours We Treat

3. Radiation Therapy Treatment Process

3. What Makes Radiation At SASH Special?

4. The Oncology Teams

Radiation Oncology - Animal Cancer Treatment

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.

There are only two animal radiation facilities in the whole of Australia and SASH has built the newest centre with the latest Linear Accelerator.
Helping to evolve Australia’s animal medicine.

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 Neil Christensen, Radiation Therapists Rachel Foong and Olivia Mudie, and Registered Veterinary Nurse Jennifer Cowan – they provide outstanding patient care, in a welcoming and easily accessible facility.

Because SASH has Medical, Radiation and Surgical Oncology Services, we are truly a comprehensive cancer centre offering a multi-disciplinary/integrative service.

Which Tumours We Treat

Radiation therapy can be used effectively for many cancer treatments. The Linear accelerator delivers high energy radiation to a specific area in the body which results in DNA damage and cancer cell death. Or use this paragraph instead? Radiation Therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays to treat cancer. In some instances, it may also be used in the treatment of some benign conditions. It is a highly-localised therapy, which means it affects only the part of the body where the radiation is targeted. Whilst radiation is directed at the tumour specifically, a small amount of healthy tissue will also be irradiated to ensure that any microscopic disease will also be treated. All efforts are made to design a treatment which is in the best interest of your beloved pet, maximising the impact on the tumour and minimising the effect on all healthy tissues and organs.
Radiation works by damaging the DNA within a cell. This damage interferes with the cell’s cycle, limiting its ability to grow and divide, ultimately leading to the cell’s death. Over time, this interruption will result in tumour control, shrinkage or eradication.

The types of Cancers that respond to radiation therapy include:

– Acanthomatous ameloblastoma
– Adrenal
– Anal Sac Adenocarcinoma
– Arthritis (refractory)
– Bladder/Prostate
– Brain and Pituitary
– Carcinomas (e.g. skin)
– Heart tumours
– Dermal and Subcutaneous hemangiosarcoma
– Infiltrative lipomas
– Injection site sarcoma
– Hepatocellular carcinoma
– Lymphomas (nasal or localized e.g. epitheliotropic)
– Melanoma
– Meningoencephalitis
– Multilobular osteochondrosarcoma
– Nasal tumours
– Osteosarcoma
– Salivary mucocoeles
– Soft tissue sarcomas (oral and dermal/subcutaneous)
– Squamous cell carcinoma
– Thymomas
– Thyroid carcinomas
– Tonsillar tumours

At SASH there are 3 treatment aims; Definitive, Stereotactic and Palliative. Definitive treatment is when Radiation Therapy is delivered with the intent of long-term control. Stereotactic treatments can have a definitive or palliative intent depending on the type of cancer but involve fewer sessions. Palliative treatment is usually intended to alleviate pain and make the patient more comfortable to increase their quality of life.

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Radiation Therapy Treatment Process

All patients are assessed by the radiation oncologist. A CT scan is performed to organise and calculate the tailored radiation dose for each patient. The CT can also be used to check for any spread of the cancer. Usually, a few days are needed between the CT scan day and the start day of radiation treatment.
A definitive radiation treatment course is usually between 10 and 20 treatments or doses (daily Mon-Fri).
Stereotactic treatments are much shorter and usually consist of 3-5 treatments (Mon/Wed/Fri).

A palliative course is once a week for 4–6 weeks (however can occasionally be Mon–Fri).

RT treatments time is between 15-35 minutes. RT in animals differs slightly to human treatments as they must be anaesthetised. Anaesthesia is required as the patients need to be specifically positioned and kept completely still during their treatment, to ensure the treatment is delivered accurately and safely. Prior to every treatment a cone beam CT scan (CBCT) is performed to align the patient for their treatment.

What Makes Radiation At SASH So Special

The machine installed is a brand new Elekta Synergy Agility Linear Accelerator with stereotactic capability and is the most up-to-date, technologically advanced machine available. It has many other advantages for treating cancer patients including:

  • 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
  • Patients can be treated as a ‘day procedure’ or to board for the length of their treatment course
  • It can treat very small areas with minimal effects on surrounding normal tissue
  • It can 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

The SASH Radiation Oncology service is also special due to our incredible on site team that involves a Radiation Oncologist, Radiation Therapist and dedicated Radiation Nurse. We also have a great physics team ensuring that all plans meet the standards expected in human hospitals.

The Oncology Teams

Medical Oncology
Veronoka Langova
Sandra Nguyen
Penny Brown
Johanna Todd (registrar)
Pauline Chan (intern)
Grace Corrigan (senior nurse)
Katherine Lynch (nurse)
Laura Kingham (nurse)

Radiation Oncology
Neil Christensen
Rachel Foong (radiation therapist)
Olivia Mudie (radiation therapist)

Surgical Oncology
Martin Havlicek
Tristram Bennett
Amanda Miller
Andrew Marchevsky

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If you require treatment for your pet, we would love to hear from you. Simply click on the button below and get in touch with our friendly team.