One of the main benefits of IMRT and Stereotactic radiation is that they can minimize the side effects from radiation, making treatment much more tolerable for you and your pet. With traditional radiation treatments there are often significant side effects in the local area from damage caused by the radiation. With IMRT and SRT, the dose of radiation can be targeted very tightly around the tumor using a radiation plan that is customized for your pet. This minimizes the dose of radiation that is given to your pet’s normal tissues. In some areas, such as the head or pelvis, this is critical for avoiding severe side effects. For example, traditional conformal radiation for nasal tumors in dogs usually results in severe inflammation and burning in the mouth, around the eyes and the skin of the face.
There is also a risk of a severe, long-term complication in the eyes, the brain or the local bones. With IMRT and SRT, the dose of radiation to these structures can be minimized, limiting side effects to small areas. This means a better quality of life for your pet. With any type of radiation treatment, a brief anesthesia is usually required. Anesthesia is needed to make sure your pet stays perfectly still for each treatment. It is usually a short anesthesia, and your pet is monitored very closely while receiving it.
Even when radiation patients have anesthesia every day, the risk of significant complications is very low. Your radiation oncologist will evaluate your pet to make sure that he or she is likely to handle the anesthesia well and may recommend additional staging tests, such as radiographs, ultrasound, an echocardiogram, bloodwork, and/or urinalysis to help make sure that your pet is a healthy candidate for anesthesia. Another potential benefit of SRT is that it may be able to limit the number of treatments that your pet will need, minimizing the risk of anesthesia complications.