The Oncology Service


The CHUVs oncology service believes in offering highly specialized care to their patients affected with cancer through active listening and collaboration with the owners.

Cancer is an important and unfortunately frequent disease in animals. The oncology team is very aware of the difficulties that pet owners and referring veterinarians face when a cancer diagnosis is made. It is important, in such instances, to be able to make an informed decision. Although cancer is the number one cause of naturel death in dogs and cats, recent progress in in veterinary oncology now allows your pet to enjoy a good quality of life with treatment and live longer.

Our team recognises the many challenges it faces in its fight against cancer. Therefore, through our research, we hope to expand our knowledge and improve our ability to better obtain diagnostics and offer the best treatment options.

In the last 15 years, oncology has become an important area of specialization in veterinary medicine in the province of Quebec.  In fact, the veterinary community has witnessed an increase in the amount of cancer cases in its animal population which could explain, at least in part, the increase in the demand for specialty services.  This increase in the prevalence of cancer in our pet population may be multifactorial, but since the utmost important risk factor for developing cancer is age, it can certainly be associated to better preventive animal health care and the associated benefit of living longer. Cancer is a major cause of death in companion animals. Approximately 50% of dogs over the age of 10 die of cancer, making it the number one cause of death in this species. Approximately 25% of animals, regardless of age, will die of cancer. Considering that there approximately are 2 million dogs and cats in the province of Quebec, we can estimate that 550 000 animals from this population will be affecting by cancer.  Cancer is caused by an irreversible change in the cells, rendering them unresponsive to the body’s normal signals responsible for maintaining equilibrium. The result is an abnormal accumulation of cells in a certain area in the body and the formation of a mass or swelling. There are 10 signs that our animal can show that should alert us for cancer:

  1. Presence of swelling or a mass
  2. A wound that won’t heal
  3. Weight loss
  4. Loss of appetite
  5. Blood loss from any orifice
  6. Presence of a bad odor
  7. Difficulty eating or swallowing
  8. Lack of energy or resistance to exercise
  9. Lameness
  10. Difficulty breathing, urinating or passing stool


Cancer is a serious illness than can cause a feeling of fear and helplessness in owners. For many, the diagnosis of cancer in their pet is not their first experience with this disease. Owners may have gone thru a personnel experience or with a loved. It therefore seems vital to us to listen and offer compassion, hope and sincerity when dealing with a pet’s cancer.

When a diagnosis of cancer is made and all the pertinent information has been taken, we then can make recommend a treatment plan. Therapy may include one or often a combination of the following:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Surgery
  • Supportive treatment

The decision to put an animal through cancer treatment is one of the most difficult decisions an owner is faced with. This decision often comes with fundamental questions concerning their pet’s quality of life. Maintaining a good quality of life is the core of our considerations when recommending a treatment plan and most of our treatment options are very well tolerated by our patients. We truly understand how vulnerable an owner can feel when their animal is diagnosed with cancer yet we believe that by giving you the information you need to make the best decision for you animal, we will be able to transform your concerns into hope. Our team remains available to answer any of your questions and to guide and reassure you. There are also many websites that may helpful ( , ,

It is normal for owners to have many questions concerning cancer treatment.

Will my animal be sick for the rest of its LIFE?

When looking at the different treatments options, we advocate open and honest discussions. We will evaluate with you, the risks and d benefits associated with each treatment option and will determine, with you, the best compromise. In general, the treatments that we recommend are well tolerated and as for chemotherapy, 90% of patients have few or no undesirable side effects. Our objective is always a return to normal life.

How much will treatment COST?

Cancer treatments are not always expensive. Many oral alternatives are now available and therefore allow for more affordable treatments. On the other hand, cost is not the only aspect to consider. Certain protocols can be very time consuming, since the animal needs to be seen frequently at the hospital for treatments and follow-up. However, many of these visits are short or can be performed by your regular veterinarian.

will my animal be cured?

For certain cancers, a cure is possible. For many others, science has not yet caught up; however, with the many tools available we can work together to prolong the remaining time you have with your pet while improving its quality of life. We have on-hand many statistics concerning median survival. These numbers are taken from the scientific literature as well as from the analysis of animal populations. These statistics are helpful in predicting the outcome of a population but difficult to apply to individuals. Therefore, we treat each patient with hope and celebrate each day many victories.

Veterinary Technician