Radiotherapy in Veterinary Medicine

What is radiotherapy and when is it used?
Carmen Lobitz
Radiotherapy in Veterinary Medicine
© J. Brunner

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In general, focused radiation produces chemical radicals that impair tumour (and other) cells and inhibit their proliferation. The aim of radiotherapy is to destroy cancer cells while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible from harm.

There are three different kinds of radiation: alpha-radiation, electron radiation (beta) and gamma emissions. Which kind of radiation is used depends on the disease being treated.

Radiotherapy treatments in veterinary medicine are used only in combination with surgery or chemotherapy. Radiotherapy is useful when the tumour cannot be totally destroyed and the prognosis of chemotherapy is poor. Radiotherapy can take place before surgery to minimize the tumour, thus making it easier to remove; or after surgery to destroy those parts of the tumour that could not be removed during surgery. In combination with chemotherapy, radiotherapy can increase the animal`s chance of survival.

The most frequently conducted form of radiotherapy is local radiation, however, there is also the possibility of…

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