Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment

We understand that hearing the diagnosis of cancer or a tumor, in your dog or cat, can leave you feeling overwhelmed and upset. The doctors and staff at Hilton Animal Hospital are here to help guide our clients through the process and to provide the best options to keep your pet pain free and maintain a good quality of life

Like us, dogs and cats can get tumors and cancer. Fortunately, however, some forms of this disease are curable, and many are manageable long term. In addition, recent advancements in oncology can dramatically extend the lives of many dogs and cats.

At Hilton Animal Hospital, our doctors will discuss several treatment options with you when a diagnosis of cancer is made. Cancer is a diverse and complex group of diseases with a wide range of clinical outcomes. Treatments can vary widely and include therapeutic interventions such as chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and supportive care. Many patients require a combination of these treatment modalities.

The main concern in deciding upon a course of treatment should be what is best to maintain the quality of life of your pet. Sometimes, because of the type of cancer or its stage of progress, cure is unlikely. For these cases, treatment may help alleviate symptoms such as pain and greatly improve the quality of the pet's remaining life. This is called palliative treatment.

At Hilton Animal Hospital we most commonly treat:

Lymphoma - Leukemia

Mast Cell Tumors

Skin and Organ Tumors

Mammary Tumors


The most common cancer that we treat with chemotherapy is Lymphoma.

Our goal in using chemotherapy is to prolong your pet’s life, but more importantly to maintain a good quality of life for them while they are undergoing treatment for cancer. Although we do use similar drugs to those used in treating cancer in people, we generally don’t administer the high doses used in more intensive protocols for human patients. The side effects that our animal patients face, are therefore much reduced or hopefully non-existent.

More Information about Chemotherapy 

Diagnosis and Treatment

Our veterinarians may suggest certain tests to help confirm or eliminate the diagnosis, and to help assess treatment options and likely outcomes. Because individual situations and responses vary, and because cancers often behave unpredictably, science can only give us a guide.


Surgery is the most commonly used technique to treat cancer in companion animals. The first surgical procedure is the best chance for the doctor to attain complete surgical removal of cancer. Our skilled doctors are available to provide comprehensive surgical techniques for the removal of cancerous, tumors, organs and tissues.


Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with drugs. Chemotherapy is often used when cancer has spread to other body parts or when surgery alone is not effective enough. It can also be used in conjunction with surgery and/or radiation treatment and over the years has proven helpful in the treatment of several different types of cancer in dogs and cats.


Radiation therapy is used to kill tumor cells through the use of an external beam also known as teletherapy. If radiation therapy should be selected as the treatment for your pet, our doctors will refer you to a specialist for assistance with this treatment option.


Our Doctors may recommend one treatment or a combination of treatments depending on the location and type of cancer, as well as, the advancement of the disease. For advanced treatment options our doctors may refer you to a Specialty Center for further evaluation depending on the situation. We work with many specialists in the area. Many times, we can continue the treatment prescribed by the specialist here, at our hospital, after your initial consult and workup.

Regional Cancer Centers


Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine – Oncology Service

NC-State College of Veterinary Medicine – Oncology Service

Northern Virginia Oncology Service


Oncology in Veterinary Medicine, as in Human Medicine, can be expensive if you don’t have Pet Health Insurance. Generally, even a basic workup starts at about $500. Depending if a Surgical Biopsy and /or Ultrasound are needed, comprehensive diagnostics can top $1,500.

Treatment costs vary widely. While some oral forms of Chemotherapy can cost just a few dollars a day, more sophisticated therapy can also add up to be many hundreds of dollars. 

Surgery Costs vary in a similar fashion.  Some small surgeries can be performed under <$1,000, while sophisticated procedures can be many multiples of that.

Most Veterinary Hospitals and Specialty Centers participate in Payment Plans like Care Credit