New Medical Tech Now Saving Local Pets Battling Cancer

New Medical Wonder In Trials Now Saving Pets Battling Cancer

There’s a new medical wonder for pets battling cancer. It’s the first of its kind in the country and it’s the first at the University of Illinois Small Animal Clinic.

The Optical Coherence Tomography, or OCT scanner, can detect cancerous cells during a surgical operation as opposed to after.

This new piece of technology hasn't even been released to the public, yet it’s saving dozens of animal lives.

Surgeons at the U of I Animal Hospital say this has the potential to save millions of animals and, in the near future, human lives.

Donald Pakey said his black Labrador mix is one of those cancer patients.

"We found out she had a tumor on her toe. It's worrisome you know? And then you have to wait,” he said. “You get tests, you have to wait; it’s always nerve-wracking waiting for the results to come back."

Currently animal hospitals run pathology tests after surgery which, Dr. Laura Selmic said, can lead to more surgeries and a higher risk of death.

"What we have to do is take a sample off and then send it for testing with a pathologist that the results can take many days to get the results back,” Dr. Selmic said. “It makes me feel really sad when we don't do the most efficient treatment for the pet."

But now, with the OCT scanner, all cells can be detected in real time.

The 5 to 7 minute procedure on top of a cancer removal operation can greatly increase the patients’ chances of survival.

The Department head, Dr. Dennis French, said he feels great to be a part of medical history.

"The first of anything, it’s exciting, but it’s also a little bit terrorizing in that you got to figure out how this is going to work well in animals,” he said. “And certainly the clinical trials that Dr. Selmic is involved in will probably prove that they will be beneficial."

So far, it has proven “beneficial” in the short trial interval for pets and a handful of human breast cancer patients, since it was introduced late last year.

As for Pakey, his 12-year-old dog Bella is now a healthy cancer survivor.

"I’m glad that Bella was able to participate in this study. I think it will really save a lot of, well, pain for other dogs, and also just extra surgeries that are always dangerous,” he said. “You know, to have to reopen an incision to take out more cancer cells if they didn't find them all in the first place. It's going to help a lot of dogs in the future."

40 animal patients have been successfully treated with the help of the OCT scanner.

Trials will last at least another year before any approval for regular practice.

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