Of the numerous cancers that affect our canine companions, lymphoma, mast cell tumours, oral melanoma and osteosarcoma are the most frequently diagnosed in the veterinary clinic.

This 4 week course dedicates a week per subject, where we explore the risk factors associated with each of these neoplasms and investigate the methods used to acquire a diagnosis. Treatment options will be discussed with particular detail placed on medical and surgical management techniques that can be applied to general practice and specialist nursing alike.

After completing this online course, participants will have a greater knowledge of these common diseases, enabling understanding of the prognosis and treatment goals; ultimately broadening communication and practical skills in the subject area.

Week 1
Mast cell tumours

Mast cell tumours are a form of skin cancer in dogs, which depending on their grade and affected site, can have an impact on neoplastic behaviour and prognosis. Many patients go on to live disease-free lives, others require continuous treatment and monitoring.

  • Presentation and behaviour of mast cell tumours
  • Diagnosis, staging and specialised tests
  • Treatment modalities and monitoring considerations

Learning objectives
After completion of this week, participants should be able to:

  • Explain which breeds of dogs are commonly affected by mast cell tumours and how the patient may present
  • List what investigative procedures may be necessary to secure a diagnosis and what safety factors should be observed when sampling masses
  • Describe which treatment modalities are most useful for which form of the disease
  • Understand the use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors and “metronomic chemotherapy” as a method for controlling cancer growth

Week 2 
Osteosarcoma

Canine osteosarcoma of the weight bearing bones often manifests in pain and/or lameness in affected patients.  Once a diagnosis has been determined, the behaviour of this neoplasm is predictable,  yet still individual to the animal.

  • Osteosarcoma pathophysiology overview
  • Diagnostic and staging processes
  • Treatment options, radiation and surgical management
  • Adjuvant (post-operative) chemotherapy and restaging

Learning objectives
After completion of this week, participants should be able to:

  • Describe the diagnostic approach to determining cancer diagnosis and tumour burden
  • Explain typical neoplastic behaviour of canine osteosarcoma and how it is a model for comparative medicine
  • List the different treatment options and their impact on survival time
  • Understand the fundamental reasoning for adjuvant chemotherapy and the options for post-operative care

Week 3 
Melanoma

Oral melanoma is the most common form of cancer of the mouth in dogs; there are various forms and the behaviour of this neoplasm is sometimes unpredictable. On week three we discuss the presentation, investigation and treatment options available for these patients and look at some practices which are novel to veterinary medicine.

  • Presentation, diagnosis and staging of oral melanoma, including lymph node mapping
  • Treatment options and impact on prognosis
  • Surgical interventions, nursing support and rehabilitation

Learning objectives
After completion of this week, participants should be able to:

  • Describe the value of different tissue sampling and specialist imaging techniques
  • List treatment options and prognostic indicators for canine melanoma
  • Describe the surgical technique, complications and post-operative care required for oral melanoma cases
  • Understand the mechanism of action behind current research for canine melanoma and apply to evidence-based medicine within nursing practice

Week 4
Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphocytes and/or lymphoid tissue, which is present in many locations within the body, hence making the presentation of these cases typical or atypical depending on location. Specialist tests have been developed to categorise this cancer and treatment is determined by these findings.

  • Manifestation of lymphoma and categories of disease
  • Diagnosis, staging and specialist tests for lymphoma
  • Treatment options for lymphoma
  • Chemotherapy protocols, client expectations and the cancer journey

Learning objectives
After completion of this week, participants should be able to:

  • List the common manifestations of canine lymphoma and the patient groups most affected.
  • Understand the value of specialist tests required to further categorise cancer
  • Describe the subcategories of lymphoma and the difference in treatment approaches
  • Explain the rationale of a multimodal chemotherapy protocol and how it may impact on prognosis
  • Analyse personal skill set and determine how you could support patients with lymphoma using your practice facilities

The course will be fully tutored by Nicola Read, and will consist of 10 hours of CPD given in various formats, including tutorials, tasks, case studies, forum discussions and quizzes.