View All Articles

Welcome Dustin Lewis, DVM, DACVR (Radiation Oncology)!

We are thrilled to welcome our newest radiation oncologist, Dustin Lewis, DVM, DACVR (Radiation Oncology)!

 

 

The VRC team is growing! We are excited to announce that Dr. Dustin Lewis is the newest radiation oncologist at VRC! He brings with him years of experience and skill in the field of radiation oncology.

 

MORE ABOUT DR. LEWIS

Dustin Lewis, DVM, DACVR-RO grew up in Northeast Indiana and attended to Purdue University for both undergraduate studies and veterinary school.  In 2010, he graduated and began a small animal rotating internship at The Animal Medical Center in New York, NY.  In July 2011, he began a joint residency in radiation oncology at both North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC and Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO.  Dr. Lewis completed his radiation oncology residency in July of 2013.  Upon completion of his residency, he accepted a position as radiation oncologist at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in Tinton Falls, NJ before he began also offering his services at VRC in 2017.


GET TO KNOW OUR TEAM

If you are a referring veterinarian and would like to schedule a Meet & Greet or Lunch & Learn with Dr. Lewis or any of our other doctors, please contact
Brian Haugen at Brian.Haugen@CompassionFirstPets.com.

To learn more about VRC and the many services that we offer, give us a call at (610) 647-2950.

Little-known Cancer Warning Signs

Shih TzuWhile it is always best to leave diagnosing a pet’s illness to professionals, it’s good to keep an eye on your pet’s health and be aware of telltale signs that your pet isn’t feeling well. Cancer can be a concern for many pet owners when a pet seems to be doing poorly, so in the following article we’ll discuss what to look for, and how to talk to your veterinarian in the greater Philadelphia area if you think your pet may have cancer. Every pet owner wants to see their dog and cat healthy and happy, as they are an important part of family life. So, noticing troubling signs means it’s time to look seriously at what is going on.

Pets, while nonverbal, are actually very good communicators—if you know what to look for. Pets’ behaviors and actions—or their lack thereof—can speak volumes. If your pet goes through a sudden change in appetite, loses a significant amount of weight in a short time, or seems to be experiencing lethargy or depression, it’s definitely time to call the vet. The same applies if your cat or dog is exhibiting difficulty breathing, persistent coughing, or evidence of pain. Changes in bowel habits should also be noted.

Other signs of cancer might show not in their behavior or actions, but in their physical body. When petting or grooming your pet, always pay attention to any lumps or bumps you might find. Wounds that won’t heal are also something to watch for. Even if your pet was wounded doing something common, their healing (or lack thereof) may be a sign of something significant. Also keep an eye—or rather, a nose—out for any abnormal odors, as sometimes a strange smell may be an indicator it’s time for a vet visit. Definitely consult your vet if you see any unusual discharges, as well.

Of course, any or all of the above might be signs or signals of something other than cancer in your pet. That’s why the very best thing you can do if you see any changes in your pet is to contact your vet. They’ll know what tests to do, and if the diagnosis is cancer, they’ll send you to a specialty veterinary healthcare hospital, like VRC, for staging and treatment.

No pet owner wants a diagnosis of cancer, but VRC can help. Our oncology service is staffed by thoughtful, experienced personnel whose primary goal is to help your animal maintain its quality of life throughout the cancer diagnosis and treatment process. Whether the solution is through surgical, medicinal, or radiation therapies, VRC will do the best we can to help your pet beat cancer, or preserve a good quality of life for the time a pet has left.

VRC’s oncology service is part of our specialty veterinary healthcare hospital. Located in Malvern in the greater Philadelphia area, we’re here to help your pet through his or her cancer diagnosis and treatment.

How Cancer is Treated in a Beloved Family Pet

pet cancer treatmentCancer is never a good word to hear from a veterinarian. It’s frightening, and often leaves pet owners feeling powerless, frustrated, and unsure of what to do for their beloved companion. For pet owners in the Philadelphia area, VRC in Malvern, PA is here to support you every step of the way. Not only is our oncology service staffed by experienced and caring people who can help you through this time, we also pride ourselves on having the state-of-the-art equipment necessary to diagnose, stage, and treat your pet’s disease

When your pet is showing signs of cancer, or has received a diagnosis of cancer previously, VRC’s team of oncologists and nurses will stage your pet’s cancer (find out if the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body), discuss recommended treatment options, and construct a treatment plan specific to your pet’s and family’s needs. Our oncology service is dedicated to providing comprehensive treatment and care for your pet. Our diagnostic imaging modalities include ultrasound, CT scan, digital radiography (x-rays), and access to MRI, which allow us to provide the most effective treatment possible, whether your pet needs medical, radiation, or surgical care. Our approach is multidisciplinary, because we believe in treating your pet’s cancer swiftly and effectively—and in terms of aftercare, we offer holistic treatment to support your pet’s healing and improve their comfort.

For pets, cancer care is about quality of life. We believe in curing your pet’s disease, or slowing its progression—whatever its stage calls for—while ensuring your pet’s day-to-day life is as comfortable as possible. This means that you, as your pet’s owner, are as vital a part of our care team as our veterinarians or nurses. We’ll always keep you informed of what’s going on with your animal, so that you can be their first line of defense, as well as their primary provider of comfort and security.

Cancer takes many forms, but on a basic level, it occurs when a body’s immune system is incapable of stopping certain cells from replicating abnormally. A tumor forms, affecting the body internally. As with humans, there is no one cause of cancer in pets. Certainly some animals are genetically predisposed, but other factors, such as environment, can play a part in causing several common types of cancer.

If you suspect your pet has cancer, or have a diagnosis from your veterinarian, contact VRC. We’re a specialty veterinary healthcare hospital in the greater Philadelphia area, and our oncology facility is up-to-date and ready to help your pet with their diagnosis and treatment.

Radiation Therapy at VRC

When you hear about radiation therapy, your mind may be brought to images of the Toxic Avenger, or news stories about victims of radiation accidents. Radiation therapy and how it works may seem like a mystery, and mystery can lead to apprehension. Rest assured that this treatment for cancer has evolved along with many advances in technology, resulting in highly accurate and safe treatments.

One main goal of radiation therapy is to deposit high doses of radiation in the unwanted tumor tissue, while exposing the surrounding normal tissue to the least amount of radiation possible. It is the normal tissues in the treatment area that limit the overall dose of radiation that we can safely prescribe. Quality of life is of utmost importance, and so the way radiation treatments are planned is to limit the number and severity of radiation side effects as much as possible. As with other treatments in veterinary medicine, there are side effects that must be managed to provide the best experience for the patient.

Perhaps you have heard of “radiation burns” from previous accounts of treatment with radiation therapy. This is a bit of a misnomer, as radiation does not incite a thermal injury. Rather, if tissues close to the skin surface experience some radiation dose, we get what is called “moist desquamation”.

Moist desquamation is when the lower layer of skin cells are affected on the first day of radiation therapy, and it typically takes these cells three or four weeks to rise to the surface during natural skin replenishment. When these cells reach the surface, they turn wet and fall off in a layer, leaving the underlying pink, healthy tissues. This is similar to if you’ve ever scraped your knee on asphalt: the underlying pink tissue gives off a fluid (plasma) that hardens into a crust (scab).

Moist desquamation may occur with mild inflammation. Our patients at VRC are prescribed a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and other low-dose pain medication to help with comfort while this early radiation side effect heals. Whether treated or not, most early effects of radiation therapy are healed within two-to-three weeks after treatment. It has been found that daily cleansing of the radiation site will help to hydrate the crusts that form and allow them to exfoliate naturally, accelerating the healing process.

Many accounts of “radiation burns” from therapeutic radiation come from older treatment plans using orthovoltage. This treatment modality utilized a lower energy beam that had higher radiation dose deposition in skin and preferential radiation dose absorption by bone. The early radiation effects from orthovoltage treatment included severe inflammation of the skin, while the late side effects (effects present 6 months after radiation therapy) included death of bone tissue, scarring of soft tissues, and secondary tumor formation. With the advent of the linear accelerator, which treats with a higher energy radiation beam (megavoltage), there is a skin sparing effect and no preferential bone absorption of radiation dose. This is why our patients look so good after treatment!

Another way to limit radiation dose to the normal surrounding tissues is to dose radiation over multiple beams from different angles. The multiple beams converge on the treated tumor, while the surrounding tissues experience a fraction of the dose. High dose conformity over the tumor is further enhanced by planning with Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), which uses individual lead leaves in the machine’s radiation window that are in constant motion during treatment. This action shapes the radiation field, “painting” the dose across the tumor and sparing more normal tissue than is possible with conventional radiation planning. IMRT can be used with nasal tumors, heart base tumors, prostate tumors, and more tumor types are being added to the list.

To learn more about Radiation Therapy at VRC or any other services that we offer, please give us a call at 610-647-2950 or email us at info@vrcmalvern.com.