Led by a board certified medical oncologist, the DCVR oncology team is skilled in the most up to date cancer treatment modalities, including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and other systemic medications. Our team is ready to provide the compassionate care that you and your beloved pet deserve.
Our board certified medical Oncologist, Dr. Julie Marie Gillem, and the oncology staff are available for consultations Tuesday through Friday by referral. Through the oncology service, patients are primarily treated with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and other systemic medications with a focus on the patient’s quality of life. Our goal is to allow dogs and cats with cancer to live longer and happier lives with their families. In the case that a cancer diagnosis has not yet been made, Dr. Gillem will work closely with our team of specialists to guide diagnostics such as bloodwork, ultrasound and CT imaging, MRI, tissue biopsy, and cytology. Through this collaboration with other services, we will do everything we can to provide you and your veterinarian with the answers you need.
About our team
In addition to the medical oncologist, our team consists of three technical staff trained in the administration of chemotherapy and the management of cancer and chemotherapy related adverse events. Phone calls and messages received during business hours Tuesday through Friday are handled by our various team members who work closely with Dr. Gillem and other doctors to discuss the best recommendations for your pet. Additionally, our hospital provides further training for graduated veterinarians through a one-year rotating internship. These interns rotate through various services, including the oncology service, and our intern doctors may assist in the management in your pets needs as well.
What to expect
An appointment consists of obtaining a history from your pet, performing a physical examination, and discussing of prognosis, diagnostic options, and treatment options. Prior to meeting with Dr. Gillem, a member of our team with likely ask to take your dog or cat into the hospital to obtain a current weight and vital measurements (temperature, pulse, and respiration). Your pet’s comfort and well-being will be a top priority. You will then be provided with an examination room to meet and discuss your goals and your pet’s specific needs with Dr. Gillem. A new patient appointment typically lasts 50 minutes from the time of the scheduled appointment, but if additional diagnostics are needed, you may be asked to leave your pet at the hospital for a few hours to allow time for the appropriate diagnostics to be performed.
Chemotherapy in veterinary medicine is used with the goal of maintaining your pet’s quality of life in addition to prolonging life. If chemotherapy treatment is elected for your dog or cat after a discussion with Dr. Gillem, your pet may be treated with the first dose of chemotherapy at the first appointment if time permits. Follow up chemotherapy appointments are scheduled as drop off appointments between 8 and 9 AM Tuesdays through Fridays. At drop off, a member of our team will discuss your pet’s needs, medication refills, and any concerns you may have regarding your pet’s care. Chemotherapy appointments typically last several hours and are dependent on the specific type of chemotherapy medication given and the schedule for the day. A member of our team will contact you when your pet is ready for discharge, and a member of the team will go over the discharge instructions with you at pick up, so you are kept informed of your pet’s treatment and follow up plan. Our team works closely together to ensure the utmost care is given to your dog or cat.
Unless your pet is going to receive sedation or is going to have x-rays, an abdominal ultrasound, or advanced imaging performed, you do not need to fast your pet prior to his or her appointment. However, if it is your initial visit, fasting is often recommended as sedation, fasted bloodwork, or imaging may be recommended. If fasting is recommended, please do not feed your pet after 10 PM the evening prior to the appointment, but continue to allow access to water until the appointment. If your pet is unable to be fasted, please ask to speak to a member of the oncology team.
If your pet is experiencing problems during work hours Tuesday through Friday or you need to speak with a member of the oncology team, please call the hospital at 301-809-8800 and ask the receptionist to connect you to a member of our team if available. A team member will get back to you the same day. If your pet is experiencing serious problems after hours, during the weekend, or on a Monday when the oncology service is closed, please call 301-809-8800 to see about bringing your pet in to our 24/7 emergency department, which has the expertise needed to treat your pet. If your needs are not urgent, a message will be left for a member of the oncology team to return your call during normal business hours Tuesday through Friday.