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First Radiation Oncology Patient Undergoes Treatment at AERA

7:37 pm

When “Misty” Van Clief’s owner learned that her beloved Shih Tzu had a large cancerous tumor on her hard palate, she was understandably devastated. But after consulting with our Radiation Oncologist Dr. Theodore Chang, Ms. Van Clief has hope that Misty will live comfortably for the rest of her days. Thirteen-year-old Misty is the first patient to receive radiation therapy at AERA’s new Radiation Oncology service. She is receiving palliative therapy via our Varian Halcyon linear accelerator, which allows for delivery of advanced radiation with extreme precision.

Misty was referred to AERA after her primary care veterinarian discovered that surgery could not completely remove the oral squamous cell carcinoma tumor (SCC), which had penetrated through Misty’s hard palate into her nasal passages. Ms. Van Clief adopted Misty three years ago. “She was a senior looking for love,” she said, and despite her estimated age, Misty is as feisty and stubborn as a dog half her age. “I want to do what’s best for her--she deserves it.” Dr. Chang explained that Misty’s treatment options ranged from aggressive to conservative, depending on the owner’s wishes and comfort level with potential side effects. “There are no cookie cutter options,” said Dr. Chang. “We tailor each treatment according to each case.” Because of the location of Misty’s tumor, the aggressive nature of SCC, and her age, a palliative radiation protocol is being followed. “Fractions” of a daily radiation dose will be delivered over a 5-day course for Misty, with the goal of alleviating pain and clinical signs associated with her tumor, thus improving her quality of life.

In the coming weeks, we will follow Misty’s progress. For now, Ms. Van Clief is happy to travel daily from about 30 miles away, wait for a couple of hours while Misty undergoes treatment, then bring Misty home to her two rescued canine sisters. We wish Misty a successful treatment, and lots of quality time with her family.

Misty is being prepared for radiation therapy by (L-R) Radiation Therapist Richard Sodora, Radiation Oncologist Dr. Theodore Chang, Anesthesiologist Dr. Marco Ruffato, and Veterinary Technician Specialist Joanne Zimmermann. Photo taken through the opening of the Halcyon linear accelerator.

Precise measurements are made via special ration therapy equipment to deliver fraction doses of radiation during Misty’s treatment, which lasts about 6 minutes. Here, (L-R) Radiation Therapist Richard Sodora and Radiation Oncologist Dr. Theodore Chang check measurements while Veterinary Technician Specialist Joanne Zimmermann and Anesthesiologist Dr. Marco Ruffato monitor Misty’s vital signs via the 5 cameras in the linear accelerator suite.