Oncology in veterinary medicine

Thanks to progress in veterinary medicine and an increase in access to healthcare, the lifespan of companion animals continues to grow.

In 2012, the European Society of Veterinary Oncology (ESVONC) noted that 1 out of 4 dogs and 1 out of 6 cats will develop cancer in their lifetime. About 50% of dogs aged over 10 years will die from cancer-related disorders.

As companion animal owners are more sensitive to the quality of life of their pets, an estimated 29% of the euthanasia of dogs is due to the presence of a tumor (ENVN, 2013).

Cutaneous tumors in companion animals

According to studies, almost 35 % of tumors on dogs are cutaneous tumors (ENVN, 2013).

Some examples of cutaneous tumors are:

  • Sarcoid (horse)
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (cat)
  • Mast cell tumor (dog)
  • Melanoma (cat, dog)
  • Fibrosarcoma (cat, dog)
  • Lymphoma (cat)
  • Anal carcinoma (dog)
  • Fibromatosis (dog)
  • Sticker sarcoma (dog)

Anticancer treatment in Veterinary Medicine

Choice of the treatment depends on:

  • characteristics of the tumor: histological grading; location; stage of primary tumor, etc.
  • extension of the disease (lymph node invasion and secondary location)
  • characteristics of the animal: general state
  • location of treatment, budget, etc.


Local control of the progression of tumor lesions remains essential in the treatment of cancer tissues. Surgery is still the main weapon in the fight against cancer. However, surgery is not always possible due to the location or size of the tumor.


All antimitotic agents have a toxic effect on cell proliferation; they inhibit cell proliferation by disrupting the synthesis of DNA or chromosomal migration, and/or disrupt cellular function (modification of RNA and protein metabolism).

For this reason, the cells most sensitive to anticancer treatment are dividing cells (principally tumor cells) and rapidly dividing cells (principally gastrointestinal epithelium and hematopoietic cells).

When recurrence appears after treatment, tumors are often more invasive. Different types of intrinsic resistance mechanisms are set up in some tumor cells, such as increased conjugation and elimination, change of target, destruction of the anticancer drug, etc.

Radiation therapy

Different techniques exist: external radiation therapy or brachytherapy (radioelement injections).

Radiotherapy can be curative on Sticker sarcoma, mast cell tumor, epulis acanthomateuse, adenocarcinomas of the nasal cavities, and adenocarcinomas of the anal glands. It can also be used for haemangiopericytoma, malignant fibrohistiocytome, neurofibrosarcoma, schwanome, breast or thyroid carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma malignant melanoma.

Responsiveness to radiotherapy varies among tumors, depending on the histological type. For example, sarcomas appear less sensitive to radiotherapy.

Radiation therapy is expensive and not all hospitals can provide it.

However, there are situations where these treatments are inadequate or insufficient.  A new approach, one that is effective, selective, inexpensive, and – if possible – easy to apply, is ideal. Electrochemotherapy is THE solution.

Would you like to try
electrochemotherapy in your clinic ?