At CARE, we offer advanced medicine, compassionate care, expert advice, and well-being for pets with cancer. Just as in humans, a pet with cancer typically requires the aid of an oncologist to diagnose and treat the disease. CARE’s veterinary oncologists determine the appropriate course of treatment, and in consultation with your referring veterinarian and that partnership provides your pet the highest standard of care.
We understand that a cancer diagnosis for your pet is devastating. Our primary goal is to maintain the best quality of life for your pet. As pet owners ourselves, we understand that each pet and his or her family’s needs are unique, which is why we approach each case individually. After a thorough examination, review of diagnostic tests and consultation with the family, we develop a customized approach to care and educate patient owners to ensure that you are comfortable with your pet’s treatment plans. Specialized treatments offered by the Oncology Team at Care include:
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy comes in many forms and is much better tolerated in dogs and cats than in people. Depending on the type of treatment, chemotherapy might be given as a quick IV injection, a slower IV infusion or an injection into a lesion or scar. Some options for chemotherapy are given orally, either in the hospital or at home. Regardless of the type of treatment our patients rarely need to be sedated for these procedures. To control certain types of cancer in pets, chemotherapy may be employed alone or in addition to other treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy. Veterinary oncologists use low doses of drugs, do not combine as many drugs as in human protocols, and often administer drugs at less frequent intervals. The goal of chemotherapy is to control or eliminate the cancer while providing the highest quality of life for your pet.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a new way to treat cancer. It involves training your pet’s own immune system to fight the disease. We use treatments like the Melanoma Vaccine and the Torigen Vaccine to treat certain cancers when chemotherapy may not be possible or may not be as effective.
- New, investigational therapies: Our team attends annual continuing education conferences to stay at the forefront of veterinary oncology. We use Tanovea, a new drug used to treat canine lymphoma. We are also aware of regional clinical trials and may recommend enrollment if you are interested and if your pet meets inclusion criteria.
- Holistic consultations: Cancer treatment often involves a multimodal approach. Our oncologists work closely with veterinarians who specialize in holistic and integrative medicine. Further, we carry many supplements that may help battle cancer and that do not cause adverse reactions when given in conjunction with chemotherapy.
- Palliative or supportive care: Your pet’s quality of life is our primary concern. If cancer treatment is not possible or not elected, our oncologists can formulate a palliative care plan aimed at providing pain relief, optimizing quality of life and even end life planning.
Our oncologists work closely with the other specialists at CARE as many of our patients to assure that all of your pet’s healthcare needs are addressed. Same day in house consultations are available with our surgeons, internists, neurologists, cardiologists, and ophthalmologist if needed. Our oncologists also have strong relationships with radiation oncologists and nutritionists who are able to provide consultation when needed.
Some of the most common cancers we treat include:
- Lymphoma (enlarged lymph nodes)
- Hemangiosarcoma (commonly a mass found in the spleen)
- Osteosarcoma (the most common bone cancer)
- Soft tissue sarcoma (growth/tumor under the skin)
- Mast cell tumors (growth/tumor on the skin)
- Malignant melanoma (the most common oral mass/tumor in dogs
- Squamous cell carcinoma (the most common oral mass/tumor in cats)
- And many others
Our oncologists will always work with you, your veterinarian and other specialists to determine the best course of treatment for your beloved pet. If your family veterinarian has diagnosed your pet with cancer, ask for a referral to CARE’s Oncology Team or call 704-457-2300 to schedule an appointment.
Our Oncology Doctors
Molly: A Tiny Dog Who Conquered Cancer
To celebrate CARE Charlotte’s 8th anniversary, we are sharing several stories of thriving patients. Today, meet Molly, a 14-year-old, lap sized shih tzu/Jack Russell mix who has beaten all the odds against a pancreatic cancer that often has serious, life altering consequences. Two of CARE’s specialists, oncologist Dr. Wesley Campbell and surgeon Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, worked together on Molly’s lifesaving team.
Heather Rudisill adopted Molly almost 14 years ago, and the two have been together ever since. In February of 2021, Molly went to see her regular vet for routine dental work. Unexpectedly, Molly’s bloodwork indicated that she had low blood sugar. Additional testing led the vet to believe that Molly had canine insulinoma, a form of pancreatic cancer in which a tumor on the pancreas produces excess insulin and causes dangerously low blood sugar.
The vet immediately referred Molly to CARE oncologist Dr. Wesley Campbell. After an ultrasound, Dr. Campbell recommended surgery, and by mid-March, CARE surgeon, Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, had successfully removed the tumor from Molly’s pancreas.
Now, two years after Molly’s surgery, she has had no ill effects or complications at all from her ordeal, her blood sugar is normal and there is no sign of any recurring cancer. The only change to Molly’s previous lifestyle is that she eats a low-fat diet because Dr. Thompson had to remove a small piece of Molly’s pancreas during the tumor surgery.
Heather could not be happier about Molly’s results. “I felt immense comfort throughout the process of working with CARE,” Heather says. “No matter the outcome, I knew Molly was going to have the best treatment plan and quality of life that was possible for her, and that meant the world to me.”
sCSR for Oncology
Favorite part of the job
“The rapport you have with clients and their pets. Also, my teammates and close co-workers who help make this a happy and fun workplace.”
What she wishes people knew about her job
How invested you become in the patients and clients, meaning you ride the lows and highs with them. “If you are fully committed to the job and giving the best you can to the clients, then that is going to happen, and I’m OK with that.”
Her furry family
“I have cats and a dog. My cat’s ages range from 1 year to 10 years old. (Shout out to Harold and Wilbur!) Skittles is my dog, who is about 12 years old.”
What people might be surprised to know
“When I was a lot younger, I grew up on a farm which involved me shearing sheep. And before finding the career I was made for, I was a nanny; back home, in Mahwah, NJ, and then in London.”
This is one of seven spotlights on some of CARE’s Client Services Representatives.
Amber Thornburg, RVT
Oncology Lead Technician
Managing the oncology team and daily schedule. Tech duties, including talking with clients and treating our patients with chemotherapy.
Vet Tech education
Gaston College Veterinary Medical Technology Program, Class of 2018
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?
“I enjoy reading, spending time with my two pups, and hiking anywhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC.”
What is the best part of your job?
“The connection I make with our patients and clients. Nothing is more rewarding than when a client tells me that I completely eased their mind and that they were comforted knowing their pet was with me during their visit/treatment.
What do you wish people knew/understood about being a vet tech?
“How insanely hard it can be physically and emotionally. Also, how much education it actually takes to be a vet tech and what we do compared to human nurses.”
Briefly tell us about your first or favorite pet.
My 10-year-old Boston Terrier, Emma. I’ve had her since she was 8 weeks old, and our bond is like no other. She is literally my heart dog, and we do absolutely everything together. I am pregnant with my first child, and it will be interesting to see how she responds to no longer being ‘the baby’ of the family. I feel she will be somewhat like the Siamese cats in ‘Lady and the Tramp.’ I can’t forget to make an honorable mention of my pittie, Dwight. He may not be the smartest boy, but we always tell him he is the most handsome.
Originally posted as part of CARE’s celebration of National Veterinary Technician Week (Oct. 16-22, 2022).
Boo Boo and his cancer-free life
To celebrate CARE Charlotte’s 7th anniversary, we are sharing seven stories of thriving patients. Dr. Wesley Campbell, an Oncology specialist, created a non-surgical treatment plan that helped Boo Boo survive a bout with cancer.
Boo Boo’s favorite thing is lying on his parents’ bed and asking for cuddles and food, says Raul Iglesias. “So much so that he will come into our home office and demand my wife follow him, though he would settle for me if needed.”
The Iglesias family brought Boo Boo to CARE in September 2020 to find out why he had been vomiting frequently and losing weight (he was down to 11 pounds at the time). An abdominal ultrasound showed a substantial mid-abdominal mass, and Boo Boo’s lung radiographs showed a large mass encompassing the cranial third of the thorax.
Unfortunately, the masses were found to be metastatic cancer, most consistent with a mast cell tumor. “The cancer was not surgically removeable because of the size and locations of the tumors and the fact that it had already spread,” says Dr. Campbell.
Fortunately, Boo Boo started chemotherapy and has been in remission for nearly two years. His weight’s back to 14 pounds, and he receives his screenings every 6 to 8 weeks.
Raul says the CARE experience has been nothing short of amazing. “From day one, Dr. Campbell has shown tremendous compassion and dedication to Boo Boo’s care. Our initial prognosis was not a good one (6 to 9 months),” he says. “Dr. Campbell was honest and delicate when delivering the news. Almost two years later, she continues to be as attentive as always.”
Day or night, the family is very thankful CARE is there. “We know our fur babies will be well taken care of when they need it.”
Follow the adventures of Boo Boo, his siblings, and their mom, Halloween, on Instagram.
Zacky and his second-time around
CARE Charlotte is celebrating its 7th anniversary by sharing seven stories of thriving patients. Zacky, our oldest thriver at 13, is a Boston Terrier mix. Dr. Amy Fauber, who specializes in Neurology and Neurosurgery, treated him in 2016, and Dr. Wesley Campbell, an Oncology specialist, treated him in early 2020.
Zacky first came to CARE in 2016 when, at age 7, the Boston Terrier was suddenly unable to move his back legs. Dr. Amy Fauber and the Neurology team found that he had a slipped disc that required urgent spinal decompression surgery. Zacky regained the full function of his legs and recovered very well. A good thing since a walk tops the list of his (and nearly every dog we know) favorite activities.
Fast forward to February 2020, Zacky developed blood in his stools, and a malignant tumor was removed from his colon. Dr. Wesley Campbell and the Oncology team developed a successful treatment plan, including chemotherapy. “Our beloved Zacky was treated at CARE during the height of the pandemic,” Julie Weeks says. “Everyone there treated him lovingly.”
The excellent news: Zacky remains cancer-free today!
While walks are still a favorite activity, he also enjoys exploring his backyard “and the neighbor’s yard if left to his own devices,” says Michael Weeks. “Going for rides and, of course, napping.”
Recent Oncology Blog Posts
Veterinarians can give you many reasons to spay or neuter your dog or cat: The procedure reduces aggression, lessens territorial behavior, cuts back on the desire to roam and the chance of being hit by a vehicle and – if your animal goes outside or gets loose –...
For decades, the three-part approach to treating cancers in people and animals has included chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgery, depending on the nature of the illness. In recent years, however, cancer treatments for pets have been refined. These breakthroughs give...
Just as cancer cells continually change in the ways they affect animals, veterinarians’ responses to the disease continually change, too. The new Vidium SearchLight DNA tumor testing is one of the most accurate and powerful tools vets have for evaluating cancer in...
Responsible pet owners know young and adult animals need a yearly checkup by a veterinarian. They may also realize senior pets should see a vet twice a year. But owners can’t depend only on checkups to catch problems: They need to look for changes in pets’ bodies and...
Have you ever felt a lump under your dog’s skin? Quite commonly, masses develop in dogs. While the mass may be a benign fatty tumor, it may also be a cancerous lump. Less frequently, cats grow masses under the skin. However, if you discover one, it is much more likely...
2020 has been a year, to say the least. In trying times, it’s important to remember the good. And what’s better than beating cancer? As oncology specialists, we have dedicated our lives to treating pets who are battling this disease. Naturally, we love nothing more...