What is radiotherapy?

The Small Animal Hospital in Glasgow contains the only Siemens Linear Accelerator (radiotherapy machine) in the UK dedicated to treatment of pet animals. This radiotherapy facility complements the other treatment modalities for cancer offered by the hospital including conventional chemotherapy and advanced surgery.

Radiotherapy is used to treat a large number of cancers in both people and animals. It involves the use of high energy particles or x-ray beams that are targeted at an area where tumour cells are present. This area is carefully planned to ensure that there is minimal damage to normal tissue. The radiation beam then causes damage to the tumour cells through their DNA meaning that they are unable to multiply. Radiotherapy is also a powerful pain killer – especially in tumours that involve bone. We operate a linear accelerator which produces both X-ray photons and electrons.


When do we use radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy is often used in combination with other treatment modalities (such as surgery and/or chemotherapy). We can use radiotherapy alone if a tumour is in an area that means it cannot be removed surgically (for example a nasal tumour or a brain tumour). We can also use radiotherapy after surgery to “clean-up” any tumour cells that have been left behind. Occasionally radiotherapy can be used to shrink a tumour prior to surgery. In addition, radiotherapy can be used palliatively to improve quality of life, either for pain relief or to slow down the progression of a tumour.

Radiotherapy is given as either a palliative course, with a goal to improve quality of life (often once weekly with a high dose per fraction increasing the risk of late side effects) or as a definitive or “full course”, with a goal of long-term control or cure while minimizing the risk of late side effects.

We treat many tumour types

Examples include:

  • Brain tumours (including Pituitary Tumours)
  • Nasal tumours
  • Oral tumours
  • Thyroid tumours
  • Sarcomas (including injection site sarcomas in cats)
  • Mast cell tumours
  • Infiltrative lipomas
  • Carcinomas
  • Osteosarcomas