We are proud of the completeness of the cancer treatment we provide for pets at Southfields, not least in being one of the few centres in the UK to offer radiotherapy for pets in-house. Our veterinary Radiotherapy team is led by a world-renowned RCVS, European and American Specialist, who is at the forefront of advances in veterinary radiation oncology cases, enabling new insights and practices so essential for the alleviation of pets’ conditions and the reassurance we offer to pet owners.
New Oncology and Radiotherapy Suite – Now fully open
Supporting our commitment to delivering the best diagnosis and treatments possible for our patients, we have invested £16 million in our new state-of-the-art purpose-built veterinary hospital which opened in 2022.
The new hospital includes a dedicated veterinary oncology and radiotherapy suite which opened in May 2023. It’s equipped with the latest technology to offer one of the most advanced veterinary radiotherapy services in the UK;
- High-precision Varian TrueBeam® radiotherapy system with integral CT scanner for submillimeter patient positioning, RapidArc™ (VMAT) treatment delivery, remotely adjustable 6 degrees of freedom (6DOF) couch and advanced respiratory motion management – enabling it to automatically adjust dose as patient breathes, meaning we can target with pinpoint accuracy tumours that were previously untreatable (lung tumours, body wall tumours, liver tumours, adrenal tumours)
- Separate entrance and waiting area for Oncology outpatients
- Two chemotherapy rooms
- Purpose-built LINAC building incorporating patient prep, viewing and control rooms
- Dedicated ward for outpatients receiving courses of radiotherapy – cared for by our Oncology nurses.
The role of radiotherapy in cancer treatment
Radiotherapy is a focused treatment that provides local or regional control of cancer by using ionising radiation to target cancer cells and disrupt their ability to survive and multiply. Ionising radiation is usually given in the form of powerful X-rays produced by a Linear Accelerator (LINAC). We are one of only six centres in the UK to have a LINAC system for treating cancer in small animals.
Holistic and individual treatment plans
Our Radiotherapy team work alongside the Medical Oncology team in determining the best and most comprehensive treatment plan for each patient. We create an individual treatment plan for every pet that comes under our care. This will often incorporate a combination of cancer therapies, such as surgery or chemotherapy, and may also involve radiation treatments.
The team also work closely with our specialist-led Diagnostic Imaging team, our expert Anaesthesia and Analgesia clinicians, and 24-hour veterinary and nursing staff, all of whom are dedicated to providing our patients with the very best treatment and care.
Supporting referring vets
Our unique online platform allows referring veterinary surgeons to enter some basic information with the client and then discuss the potential treatment plans before booking a referral.
We’ve published a leaflet with more information about making a referral to our veterinary radiotherapy service, click here to download a copy.
How our Radiotherapy service can help
Cases where we use Radiotherapy
- After surgery, when all the visible cancer has been removed but microscopic cancer has been left behind at the surgical site ("dirty margins") and there is a risk of tumour re-growth, e.g. mast cell tumours and soft tissue sarcomas
- For treating some radiosensitive tumours without prior surgical removal (where you have decided not to proceed with surgery, the tumour is inoperable, or surgery is not recommended) – this category includes nasal tumours, brain tumours, thyroid tumours, some oral tumours, and anal sac tumours
- For palliation/slowing down the growth of many solid tumours that are not surgically removable, or where surgery would carry a significant risk to the patient
- For pain relief in cats and dogs with primary bone tumours (e.g. osteosarcoma) or tumours that have metastasised (spread to) areas of bone
Advanced clinical services include
- “Definitive-intent” radiotherapy treatment (also known as curative-intent treatment), which is usually the protocol of choice for most localised cancers as it gives the best chance of long-term tumour control. This may be more conventional (i.e. 10-20 treatments over 2-4 weeks) or may be a stereotactic radiation protocol (SRT)
- “Palliative-intent” radiotherapy treatment delivers a lower dose of radiotherapy sufficient to slow the tumour’s growth or reduce associated pain or clinical signs
- Low-dose radiation therapy for osteoarthritis (OA), which is available for dogs to control chronic, unresponsive pain in the long-term
- Radiotherapy for some non-cancerous conditions, which may be unresponsive to traditional medical therapies (meningoencephalitis of unknown origin; MUO, GME, chronic rhinitis, sialocoele)
Equipment and facilities include
- Varian TrueBeam® linear accelerator (LINAC), which uses ionizing radiation to accurately target and treat neoplasia and occasionally specific benign diseases
- IMRT capability to “paint” the dose accurately onto the treatment site, whilst markedly avoiding high doses to nearby organs. This drastically reduces the risk and severity of side effects
- Rapidarc® technology allowing quicker treatments and shorter anaesthetics
- Robotic “6DOF” couchtop, meaning patients can be perfectly positioned to ensure highly accurate and focussed treatments
- Stereotactic radiation capability
- Bunker made from solid concrete and lead
- Sophisticated planning software, specifically to decide on correct treatment plans and ensure optimal treatment of cancer with minimal side effects and complications
- Specialist vacuum bags for patient positioning to ensure accurate treatment
- Dedicated wards for radiotherapy patients staying with us overnight or longer
Our Radiotherapy Team
Led by James Elliott, a renowned RCVS, European and American Specialist in both medical and radiation oncology, our veterinary radiotherapy team has many years of experience dealing with radiation oncology cases.
James was trained in the United States at a centre that is at the forefront of pioneering stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic radiation therapy – and is the most experienced Radiation Oncologist in the country in the planning and delivery of this type of treatment. James works closely alongside Sarah Mason, RCVS Specialist in Small Animal Oncology and European Specialist in Veterinary Oncology and Radiation Oncology, who heads up our General Oncology service.
The team includes Radiotherapy Technicians and Therapeutic Radiographers with extensive experience in administering treatments. They are supported by our Oncology nurses and patient care assistants, who have experience in nursing pets through radiotherapy courses.
Meet The Team
“Bandit is an absolute miracle, a real superstar and is so much happier and healthier. He’s just enjoyed his first day out after all he’s been through, the operation, being in intensive care and then the radiotherapy, and we went a walk to Southfields to see everyone there. The specialists, vets and all the nurses were fantastic and went above and beyond in looking after him and they were so pleased to see him again looking so well.”