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For Prospective Clients

Services Provided
The University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center Oncology Department will meet with you and your pet in an initial consultation appointment to discuss the specifics about your pet’s cancer. We will discuss any additional diagnostics that are recommended and all treatment options available. The Oncology Department offers a full range of diagnostic and therapeutic options for pets with cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Staffed by a dedicated team of veterinarians, veterinary technicians and researchers, the oncology team gives loving care for pets with cancer. Our ability to collaborate within the human and veterinary medical arenas offers the best treatment options for our patients.

We understand that cancer is a difficult subject and there are many necessary questions surrounding the care of your pet. Our goal is to supply you with the necessary information and resources to help make decisions for your pet’s quality of life.

Using state of the art diagnostic and treatment modalities, we have the facilities to care for your pet in a compassionate, caring environment that encourages client involvement in the treatment process. Our comprehensive care coordinates surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, imaging (CT, MRI, digital radiographs), nutrition and other specialties within our hospital as needed to help with the complete care of your pet.

Team members in the clinical oncology department are trained in both internal medicine and oncology and collectively have over 75 years of experience in veterinary medicine. We strive to provide treatment options that will improve and extend the quality of life for our veterinary patients, while making the process manageable for their caretakers.

How to Make an Appointment in the Oncology Department
Appointment Information
Payment Policies and Options
Directions to the Small Animal Hospital
Area Hotels
Area Restaurants
Cancer Symptoms and Terminology
Cancer Resources
Client Support Services
Clinical Trials at the University of Minnesota


How to Make an Appointment with the Oncology Department
The University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center Oncology Department takes appointments through referrals from your veterinarian. Your veterinarian should fill out the referral form and fax back with the medical record. That referral will generate a pre-admit number, which is how we schedule the appointment. Once we have the referral we will call you to set up an appointment. We strive to get you and your pet into the Oncology Department within a few days.

Once you have an appointment set up through the Oncology Department, please make sure you pick up any imaging (disk or x-rays) from your veterinarian prior to the appointment.

Appointment Information
New patient consultations are scheduled Monday through Thursday with both morning and early afternoon appointment times available. These consultations last approximately one hour. Additional testing, procedures or treatments may need to be scheduled on a day other than the initial consult. New patient consultations are initially seen by one of our senior veterinary students and/or a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a complete history and physical examination. After the student/technician presents the case to the clinician, all will return to the client to talk about treatment options. A discharge letter with the recommendations covered in the consultation will be sent to the client (either at their home mailing address or email) and to the referring clinic (by fax).

The fee for the exam is $159. Any additional diagnostics, medications or treatments are at an additional cost. All fees will be discussed prior to the procedure.

Please arrive 10 minutes prior to your appointment. For the safety of you and your pet, please keep your pet under control via leash or carrier while in the Veterinary Medical Center.

You’ll need to bring a copy of your pet’s medical record, radiographs and ultrasounds (if appropriate) to your appointment. You can also be of great help during the medical evaluation by providing important information about your pet’s medical history, current medications, diet, physical activity or any other recent changes you have noticed.

Payment Policies and Options
Fees charged for services support the Veterinary Medical Center. A very small part of our budget (less than nine percent) comes from the State of Minnesota. We make every effort to provide reasonable costs for services, but modern veterinary care can be very costly. Unfortunately, we do not have the funds to provide free or low-cost care.

Outpatient care
Outpatient care is the care that is entirely completed on the day of your animal's visit. Our payment policy requires payment in full at the time of completion of outpatient care. Payment options include cash, check, Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express credit card, and CareCredit loans.

Inpatient care
If your animal is hospitalized, you will receive an estimate of the likely cost range (low and high) for at least the first 24 hours of care to help you plan.  This is only a preliminary estimate and may change if your animal needs more care or testing. Your doctor will update your estimate daily, if needed. If you do not receive this information from your doctor, please ask him/her to explain costs and feel free to call and ask for updates.
We require a deposit equal to 75 percent of the high end of the initial estimate. We cannot provide care to your animal without this payment. We will work with you to find ways to make payment. If more care or testing is required beyond the initial estimate, additional payment must be made before care is given.
If you have an outstanding bill, we cannot provide additional services until the past-due balance is paid in full.
Payment in full must be made at the time your animal is discharged. Payment options include cash, check, Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express credit card, and CareCredit or Wells Fargo loans.
Our accounting office can answer your billing questions. Their phone numbers are 612-625-2745 or 612-625-7765.
We will work with you to offer treatment options that take cost into consideration. We value you and your animals and want to continue our relationship with you.

Financial Assistance and Cancer Treatments for cancer can be very expensive.  Here are some suggestions for dealing with veterinary bills.
• Take preventative steps.  Set aside a fund just for your pet, a “pet account” to help pay for major veterinary expenses.
• Consider possible loan sources
• Request funding support from sources such as:
Apply for Care Credit

Directions to the Small Animal Hospital

Area Hotels

Because some of the procedures or treatments are not available the same day, an overnight stay might be necessary. The following hotels are close to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center and are pet friendly:

Hotels in the Area

Area Restaurants
Conducting diagnostic tests and providing other services can take time. Here is a partial list of area restaurants and coffee shops for your convenience.

St Paul Student Center
2017 Buford Avenue
Five-minute walk from the VMC
Has a variety of salads, pizza, and Subway sandwiches. Hours are limited to daytime. Exit the hospital and walk northwest across the parking lot toward the parking ramp. You will see a set of stairs in the distance going up a hill. Follow the sidewalk up the hill. Continue past the library and across the street (Buford) to the student center.

Lori's Coffee House
1441 Cleveland Avenue North
Five-minute walk from the VMC
Standard coffee house fare with pastries, etc. Excellent homemade soups and sandwiches during lunchtime. Take a right out of the hospital parking lot. Take a right on Commonwealth Avenue. Go to Cleveland and take a right. The Coffee House is a couple of blocks ahead on the left-hand side.

2260 Como Avenue
10-15-minute walk; 5-minute drive
Located in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood west of the VMC. Somewhat upscale, but prices are not unreasonable. Beer and wine served. Take a right out of hospital parking. Go the stop sign and take a right on Commonwealth. Follow this street all the way to Como Avenue. Take a right on Como. The restaurant is one block on your left.

Chianti Grill
Snelling and County Road B2
Five-minute drive
Italian restaurant with full service bar. Located on Snelling Avenue and County Road B2. Take a left out of the hospital parking lot onto Gortner Avenue. Follow to Larpenteur Avenue (first set of lights). Take a right on Larpenteur then a left onto Snelling. Chianti Grill is on the right-hand side just before County Road B2 stoplights.
Rosedale Center and vicinity
West Highway 36 and Fairview
Five-minute drive
There are many eating establishments in and around Rosedale. Take a left out of the hospital parking lot onto Gortner Avenue. Follow to Larpenteur Avenue. Take a right on Larpenteur Avenue. At the next stoplight take a left on Fairview Avenue. Follow Fairview to Rosedale Center, which will be on your right.

Cancer Symptoms and Terminology
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in companion animals. It has been estimated that almost half of the animals that live 10 years or longer will die of cancer. The incidence of cancer appears to be increasing in the canine and feline population at a steady rate.

Explanations for this increase include a larger population of geriatric pets (advances in health care mean that fewer pets die of other diseases at a younger age), improved recognition and diagnosis of cancer, increased willingness on the part of both veterinarians and pet owners to treat cancer, as well as both genetic and environmental changes.

One of the questions most commonly asked by pet owners is “What caused my pet’s cancer?” The standard answer is “We don’t know.” That cause of most cancers diagnosed in companion animals (as well as humans) is often poorly understood.  We have been successful in finding either a cause or a risk factor in only a few cancers. The small numbers of veterinary patients, incomplete or unknown medical histories and lack of follow-up often hinder our efforts.

The symptoms of cancer in animals are usually the same as in people. Early detection of cancer is just as important in our patients. Successful treatment hinges our ability to “catch it early.” Some of the most common signs of cancer (early warning signs) are listed below:

1)    Abnormal swelling that persists or continues to grow
2)    Sores that do not heal
3)    Unexplained weight loss
4)    Loss of appetite
5)    Bleeding or discharge from any body opening such as the nose or mouth
6)    Bad odor, especially from the mouth
7)    Difficulty eating or swallowing
8)    Reluctance to exercise or loss of stamina
9)    Persistent lameness or stiffness
10)   Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating
11)   Change in behavior

The terms used to describe cancer can be confusing.
The same word can mean different things to different people. The following section is a glossary that attempts to clarify some of the more commonly used terms.

Cancer: Uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells
Synonym: neoplasia
Tumor: Literally, it means “a swelling”; an alternative definition is - a new growth of tissue in which the multiplication of cells is uncontrolled and progressive
Synonym: neoplasm
Oncology/Oncologist: Oncology is the field that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer while an oncologist is a doctor that specializes in this field (veterinarians can become board-certified in either medical oncology or radiation oncology by completing a residency and passing several certifying exams)
Malignant: “Having the properties of anaplasia, invasion and metastasis” (these are characteristic of a tumor that make it capable of causing the death of a patient); a malignant tumor is one which no longer resembles the cells it was derived from, is invasive at the site where it starts and has the ability to metastasize (or spread) to other organs
Benign: Opposite of malignant; benign tumors are unlikely to spread, unlikely to cause the death of a patient and have a favorable outcome (however, there are a few exceptions where benign tumors behave more like malignant ones)
Primary site: This refers to the site where the tumor started; “the original tumor”
Metastasis: “ The transfer of disease from one organ or part to another not directly connected to it”; metastasis is the process by which the tumor spreads from one location to another; the most common sites of metastasis are the lungs or lymph nodes; the most common routes of metastasis are the bloodstream and the lymphatics
Metastatic lesion: the term used for the site of spread
Biologic behavior: This refers to how a tumor is likely to behave (for example, how likely it is to metastasize, where are the common sites of metastasis and how invasive is it at the site where it starts)
Staging: This term refers to the process of determining how advanced a cancer is and if it has spread; we “stage” an animal through the use of tests such as x-rays, ultrasound, blood work, lymph node aspirates and bone marrow aspirates; this is helpful because it allows us to determine the best treatment options and to predict the outcome of treatment
Aspiration: “The removal of fluid or gases from a cavity of suction”; When we “aspirate” something, we place a needle (which is attached to a syringe) into a tissue and draw back on the syringe; cells are thus dislodged from the tissue into the needle and syringe; we can then spread these cells onto a slide so that they can be stained and examined under the microscope
Cytology: This refers to the microscopic examination of cells that have been removed from the body (either by aspiration or by other techniques)
Biopsy: The removal and examination, usually microscopic, of tissue from the living body, performed to establish a precise diagnosis. When we biopsy something, it means that we remove a piece of tissue to look at under the microscope (we also use the term to refer to the sample we have obtained); a biopsy is crucial in making a diagnosis of cancer
Carcinoma: A malignant growth made of epithelial cells tending to infiltrate the surrounding tissues and give rise to metastasis; epithelial cells “line” body surfaces
Adenoma:  A benign epithelial tumor
Sarcoma: A tumor made up of a substance like the embryonic connective tissue; sarcomas are malignant tumors of connective tissue origin (such as cartilage, bone and muscle)
Anaplastic/Undifferentiated: A loss of differentiation of cells and of their orientation to one another; tumors that are anaplastic are usually considered very malignant and aggressive
Margins: This is a term used to refer to the edges of the surgical specimen; “clean margins” means that no tumor cells are visible at the edges (sometimes tumors come back despite clean margins. “Dirty margins” means that tumor cells are visible at the edges (therefore, tumor cells have been left behind)
Grading: This term refers to the evaluation of microscopic features of a tumor that allows the pathologist to assign the tumor “a grade”; the grade of a tumor is important because it allows us to predict how aggressive a tumor will be
Prognosis:  A forecast as to the probable outcome of an attack of disease; this refers to how we think a patient will do
Protocol: We usually use this term to refer to the specific chemotherapy plan that is used (for example: the “Weekly Sequential protocol” is commonly used for lymphoma); it can also refer to the overall treatment plan
Cycle: chemotherapy drugs are often given in the same order on the same schedule repeatedly; the term “cycle” refers to the basic plan that gets repeated over and over again; the cycle is different for each chemotherapy protocol
Chemotherapy: Treatment of disease by chemicals that destroy rapidly growing cells
Complete remission: Disappearance of all signs of cancer by clinical evaluation following treatment
Partial remission:
Reduction – though not complete elimination of cancer in the body in response to treatment
Radiation therapy: Use of high-energy electromagnetic waves (radiation) – from outside the body to kill cancer cells
Relapse: The redevelopment of cancer after a cancer-free time period

Cancer Resources
Online Canine Cancer Resources
This site has general articles on specific tumor types, making treatment decisions and understanding terminology. Has in-depth discussions of numerous tumor types, including descriptions, epidemiology, physical findings and pathology. Also addresses nutrition, quality of life, survivor stories, useful external websites and book reviews.
Veterinary Partner provides reliable, up-to-date animal health information from the veterinarians and experts of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), the world's first and largest online veterinary database and community.
A great source to learn about amputations and help you cope with canine osteosarcoma or other dog cancers.
The Canine Cancer Project
The Canine Cancer Project will offer you support in the form of e-mail groups and an ever-growing list of quality, informative links which just might feature a new natural remedy you haven't heard of or considered trying in the past.
Cure Canine Cancer
Find out about their global effort to cure canine cancer. Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), established in 1948, is dedicated to funding research that protects, treats and cures companion animals and wildlife.With the Canine Cancer Campaign, MAF has taken the lead in securing financial contributions to manage and administer research grants for the world's most prestigious colleges of veterinary medicine, universities, organizations and scientists.

Online Feline Cancer Resources  
This site provides a comprehensive list of information about cancer in felines including a cancer overview, common warning signs, treatment options, nutritional support, the euthanasia process, and links to various feline support groups.  This site also provides numerous links to established veterinary organizations for additional support and education.  Many different medical topics are covered.
Vetirinary Partner provides reliable, up-to-date animal health information from the veterinarians and experts of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), the world's first and largest online veterinary database and community.
Feline Lymphoma Caregivers
This site serves as a guide for owners whose felines have been diagnosed with lymphoma.  An overview about lymphoma is covered as well as information on the symptoms, chemotherapy, and diagnostic tools related specifically to this type of cancer.  This site also provides a list of veterinary resources and case studies
Fab Cats
This informational site contains multiple images of the beginning stages of cancer, conference proceedings (discussions on different topics), articles, and treatment information.

Other Resources 
Cancer Dictionary
Online medical dictionary.  This site can quickly help you better understand the medical terminology related to cancer.
Veterinary Cancer Society
Use this site to connect to other cancer links through universities; also provides information on clinical research trials, upcoming conferences, and research. The Veterinary Cancer Society was formed in 1977 by an interested group of veterinary oncologists. It is a non-profit educational organization that is incorporated in the State of Illinois. Our current membership numbers over 1,000 and includes specialists in medical, surgical, and radiation oncology, internists, pathologists, pharmacologists, and general practitioners from all over the United States and the world.
The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM)
Established in 1972, this is the recognized specialty college responsible for establishing training requirements, evaluating and accrediting training programs, and examining and certifying veterinarians in the veterinary specialties of Cardiology, Oncology, Neurology, Large Animal Internal Medicine, and Small Animal Internal Medicine.

Books On Cancer
Fight Your Dog’s Cancer: A Guide, Andrea Lynn (2000)
Pets Living with Cancer: A Pet Owner’s Resource, Robin Downing (2000)
Help Your Dog Fight Cancer: An Overview of Home Care Options, Laurie Kaplan (2004)
Why Is Cancer Killing Our Pets? How You Can Protect/Treat Animal Companion, Deborah Straw (2001) Cancer and Your Pet: The Complete Guide to the Latest Research, Treatments, & Options by Debra Eldredge (2005)
The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs by Shawn Messonnier (2006)
Sparky Fights Back: A Little Dog’s Big Battle Against Cancer by Josee Clerens (2005)
Without Regret: A Handbook for Owners of Canine Amputees by Susan Neal (2002)
Veterinarians Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs: Safe and Effective Alternative Treatments and Techniques from the Nations Top Holistic Veterinarians by Martin Zucker (2000)
Annie Loses Her Leg But Finds Her Way (Children’s book) by Sandra Philipson (1999)

The following might be some areas you might want to discuss with the social worker:
1.    You need information about hospital procedures.
2.    You are having an emotional reaction to your pet's illness, diagnosis, treatment, or prognosis.
3.    You need help with informing other family members of the situation with the pet, e.g. a mother with a 4-year old child.
4.    You are having an immediate emotional reaction to the death of your pet.
5.    You need help making a decision about putting your pet to sleep (euthanasia).
6.    You need help making decisions about treating your pet.
7.    You want support and help in dealing with bereavement and grief reaction over time after the loss of your pet.
8.    You need to talk about the reaction of surviving pets to their "buddy's" loss.
9.    You have personal problems not related to the pet, e.g., finances, housing.
10.    You need information and education about your pet's illness, treatment & "translation" of medical terms.
11.    You are having trouble communicating with clinicians, e.g., emotional upset, language barriers, etc.

Along with individual contact, there is a support group for people whose pets are ill or who have died. The group meets every other week. It is people helping each other at this difficult time.
The social worker is a "listener" and doesn't give medical information, but will help you contact your veterinarian. If there is any way the social worker can help you, please do not hestitate to call. 

Client Support Services
The University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) recognizes the unique and enduring bonds that form between people and their animals - animals who are family members, confidantes, guardians, and best friends. When these bonds are tested by illness, behavior problems, injury, or death, it can feel overwhelming.

Client Support Services


Clinical Trials at the University of Minnesota
The Animal Cancer Care and Research (ACCR) program brings together researchers from different disciplines across human and veterinary medicine, who strive to learn more about the area of cancer where humans and animals interface. Their discoveries lead to better ways to treat and prevent cancers in both humans and animals.

The Clinical Investigation Center (CIC) facilitates veterinary clinical trials and translational research studies which may lead to new drugs, devices, procedures and treatments for the benefit of animals and humans alike. We do this by providing expertise, facilities, technical staff and overall study coordination.

Clinical Trials at the University of Minnesota



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