4 Oncology cases that make this veterinarian love her job

I often get asked why I practice Oncology, and there are two reasons. One is that I can often extend good quality of life for longer than most clients realize. And the second reason is that I get to know my clients well and develop a relationship with them. The exciting part of Oncology is that it is ever-changing with new therapies. Here are four of my favorite patients who did better than their initial diagnosis would have predicted.

Ellie the dogI first saw Ellie as a 10-year-old Beagle with thyroid carcinoma. Her disease, unfortunately, had already progressed to her lungs. We started her on a new drug developed for dogs with mast cell tumors, called Palladia (toceranib). Within three weeks, the tumor in her neck had gotten smaller and within six weeks it was gone. Her last recheck was in June 2015, one-and-a-half years after her diagnosis, and she was still doing well. What is special about her case is the drug she responded to has not been published to work for this tumor, but has a biologic reason to work.

Lexi the dogLexi came to me as a 12-year-old Yorkie. She was diagnosed with mast cell tumors. Her cancer was so severe, that two weeks after surgery, her disease was already returning. We started her on Kinavet (masitinib) and as of her last recheck a few weeks ago, she was still doing well and in complete remission. She is now 15 months out from the start of her treatment when her prognosis was less than 3 months.

Mollie the dogMollie initially came to me as a 12-year-old Labrador. She was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. We started her on an intravenous chemotherapy (vinorelbine) that has good penetration to the lungs. Mollie lived 18 months after her diagnosis. Without treatment, Mollie would have been expected to survive 1-2 months. Nearly 40% of her lungs had cancer in it and it is remarkable how long she lived.

Ashley the catOne of my most gratifying cases is Ashley. She is a 14-year-old cat. She came in with a large tumor on her head that cytology returned as lymphoma. After her first dose of chemotherapy, she was in complete remission and continues to do well more than six months from the time we met her. Why I find Ashley’s case so gratifying is that this is an unusual presentation for a common disease with a great response.

All these patients, during treatment, have had a good quality of life. If a pet is diagnosed with cancer, even bad cancer, it does not always carry a poor prognosis. These cases are just some good examples of why I love my job.

Jennifer Kim, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)Jennifer Kim, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology)
Dr. Kim grew up in New York and received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1998. After spending two years at the National Cancer Institute performing cancer genetic research, she attended veterinary school at Tufts University, graduating in 2003. Dr. Kim completed a rotating internship at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan, New York and then an oncology internship at Cornell University. She initially began at NorthStar VETS as an emergency clinician in 2005 and returned in January 2010 to treat oncology patients after completing a residency in medical oncology at Michigan State University.

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