Oncology

The Oncology department at The Hope Center focuses on the care and treatment of patients diagnosed with cancer. This disease, in addition to it being physically challenging for the pet, it is also a troubling time for the owner. The department relies on the most advanced cancer therapies to treat the patient as well as education to help pet owners understand their pet’s condition and make the most informed decisions possible in line with the wishes of their family.

Department Contact Information

Phone: 703-281-2277  •  Fax: 703-242-4777  •  Email: oncology@hopeadvancedvet.com

Dr. McMillian:  Monday – Thursday from 7:00am – 6:00pm
Dr. McNeill: Tuesday – Friday from 7:00am – 6:00pm

Electrochemotherapy

Hope Oncology is pleased to announce that the Oncology Department is now offering electrochemotherapy. This is an exciting technology that has been used for treatment localized of tumors in both humans and pets. Electrochemotherapy combines chemotherapy with electric pulses to increase the absorption of chemotherapy in the area of the tumor. This type of treatment can be used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells or for large tumors where surgery is not possible.

Electrochemotherapy (ECT) is a cancer therapy that combines the use of a probe that delivers electric pulses with chemotherapy. Electric pulses are used to create holes in the cancer cell. This process is called electroporation. The chemotherapy is either injected directly into the tumor or given intravenously.  Electroporation is used to drive the chemotherapy into the cell and trap it within the cell. This process allows for localized chemotherapy treatment with increased effect. 
ECT is used after surgery, when incomplete or narrow margins are obtained, or if surgery is not feasible due to the size or location of a tumor, if radiation therapy is not desired or recommended, in cases where it is ideal to reduce the size of the tumor prior to surgery, or to reduce the size of a tumor for palliative care.
The two most commonly used chemotherapy drugs for ECT include cisplatin and bleomycin. These drugs are most commonly selected because they are normally poorly absorbed by cells. The use of ECT increases the absorption of the drugs and thereby increases the cytotoxicity of bleomycin up to 1,000 fold and the cytotoxicity of cisplatin 70 fold.

  • Soft tissue sarcomas of the skin and subcutaneous tissue
  • Mast cell tumors
  • Squamous cell carcinomas
  • Melanomas
  • Perianal adenomas
  • Perianal adenocarcinomas
  • Feline injection site sarcomas
  • Localized lymphoma
  • Localized plasma cell tumors
  • Equine sarcoids
  • Cutaneous and select subcutaneous tumors in exotic and zoo animals

Many pets will tolerate ECT under a heavy sedation, but some pets do need a short anesthesia. Whether your pet will need anesthesia will be discussed with you prior to the treatment. Factors that may determine whether your pet requires anesthesia include, the location and size of the tumor, your pet’s temperament, and your pet’s underlying level of discomfort. The main goal is that each pet is comfortable and safe during the procedure. 
The number of treatments will vary based on the type of cancer being treated, whether a scar or a large mass is being treated, and how the tumor responds to the treatment.
Most pets tolerate ECT very well with minimal side effects. Since ECT is a localized treatment, pets do not typically experience GI upset, but a local skin irritation such as redness, swelling, or superficial erosions of the skin can occur. In some more severe cases wound formation and tissue death (necrosis) is possible.  The site is carefully monitored after the treatments to ensure that, if any side effects occur, they are managed.

The effectiveness of ECT is going to depend on the type of tumor being treated and whether a scar or a large tumor is being treated. In general, research has shown ECT to be effective in providing cancer control in many different types of local tumors. 

Our Commitment to our Clients

  • Compassion for the pet and the owner
    Emotional turmoil and feelings of helplessness are common when a pet is diagnosed with cancer. We consider it our duty to make the process as painless as possible. We try to spoil pets and owners alike, and to treat you as a part of our own family.
  • Information and understanding of the pet’s condition
    We believe the best way to combat the feelings of distress is to provide information and understanding. Many clients find it overwhelming to digest the amount of information regarding the diagnosis, potential treatment options and possible side effects. We excel at educating clients so that you may feel empowered and capable of making decisions.
  • Choices and a variety of treatment options
    There are always several different options for treatment. We offer state-of-the-art cancer care, combining traditional methods with cutting edge protocols. Dr. McNeill has experience not only with veterinary cancer, but also with several leading human oncology centers and with research for the National Cancer Institute.
  • Combination and Integration of all available treatments
    Treatment recommendations should consider all aspects of the pet’s health, including pain relief, nutrition, and complementary and alternative therapies. Many newer drugs have almost eliminated debilitating side effects and most sources of pain.
  • Quality of life
    This should be the ultimate goal of treatment, especially in pets whose cancer is not curable. By aggressively preventing pain and side effects, we expect our patients to have a higher quality of life than they did prior to diagnosis. We also speak with each family so that they know that saying goodbye is not giving up. We have many resources available for hospice and end of life decisions.

Pet Owner Information

Veterinary Oncologists


Dr. Conor McNeill
Medical Director Oncology Service

Dr. Brittanie Partridge
Oncologist
Dr. McMillan
Dr. Sarah McMillan
Oncologist