PHOTO 1: Chemotherapeutic drugs kill cells in rapidly dividing tissues. Two or three drugs are commonly combined to treat malignancy. The drugs need to have the following characteristics: each drug should be active against a certain tumour type; they should each have a different mechanism of action and they must not have superimposed toxicities. Chemotherapeutic drugs must be used at their maximum dosage. Combination chemotherapy results in more sustained remissions and longer survival times than single agent chemotherapy. Exceptions to this rule include Carboplatin. Carboplatin is used for the treatment of osteosarcoma and squamous cell carcinoma in single agent chemotherapy in dogs. The side effects of Carboplatin include neuropathy, nephrotoxicity, emesis, bone marrow suppression, alopecia and gastrointestinal toxicity. Carboplatin is more effective when used post operatively. The patient must be stabilized before chemotherapeutic drugs are administered. Healthy cells have better repair mechanisms than neoplastic cells and chemotherapeutic drugs should be administered at intervals that allow tumour cells to die while giving the normal cells enough time to recover. Chemotherapeutic agents should be delivered in clearly labelled, sealed plastic bags and these drugs should only be handled wearing protective gear. PHOTO 2: The cages of animals receiving chemotherapy should be clearly marked as these animals will require special care and monitoring. The cages of patients that have received chemotherapy must be clearly identified with a notice giving instructions for the handling of the animal and its excretions. PHOTO 3: The area where patients receive chemotherapy should be a designated part of the hospital with low traffic and minimal drafts. Chemotherapeutic agents are very toxic and must be handled with care. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not work with chemotherapeutic agents.
REFERENCES: PHOTOS 1-3: 1. Nelson, RW & Couto, CG 2009, ‘Small animal internal medicine’, 3rd ed., Mosby Elsevier, St. Louis, pp. 1153-1154. 2. Ogilvie, GK 1998, ‘Chemotherapy and the surgery patient: principles and recent advances’, Clinical Techniques in Small Animal Practice, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 22-32. [http://www.sciencedirect.com]. 3. Sattler, FP, Knowles, RP & Whittick, WG 1981, ‘Veterinary Critical Care’, Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia, pp.10-12. 4. Silverstein, DC & Hopper, K 2009, ‘Small Animal Critical Medicine’, Saunders Elsevier, St. Louis, pp. 4.
Metadata assigned by Dr. M. van Schoor, Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Companion Animal Clinical Studies