Practice Profile: The Veterinary Cancer Center in Norwalk, CT
Focusing on the growth of radiation therapy in the veterinary world, we hold an in depth interview with Dave Duchemin, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Owner of The Veterinary Cancer Center in Norwalk, Connecticut. In his interview Mr. Duchemin tells about his experience planning, building and opening his cancer clinic, while also making predictions about the future of cancer care in the vet oncology world. We also report on the World Vet Congress meeting that took place earlier this year in Paris, France, and we close by providing a brief summary report on the pre-owned equipment market.David Duchemin is Chief Operating Officer and Co-owner of the Veterinary Cancer Center. We asked him about his newly opened center in Norwalk, Connecticut.
ROS Editor: What is the local impact of your vet center on the community in Norwalk?
David Duchemin: We believe that the local impact will be significant. The fact that this is the largest standalone comprehensive veterinary cancer center will influence the practice of veterinary medicine, not only in Norwalk, but in all of the surrounding counties as well. With the addition of radiation therapy, access to most of the leading and most advanced clinical trials, nutrition, and acupuncture we bring the surrounding area pets and the pet owners a truly comprehensive oncologic approach.
ROS Editor: How long did it take from planning to operation to launch your new hospital?
David Duchemin: Anyone that has been involved with any type of construction knows that nothing ever goes as planned. We started looking for the appropriate space back in 2007. Since our needs and desires were very particular, this process proved to be far lengthier than we had thought. It was not until December 31st, 2010 that we had a signed lease. The upside to this delay was that is this gave me plenty of time to refine our floor plan into something that fit our needs perfectly. It was on February 15th, 2012 that all of our planning and hard work paid off and we walked into a workplace that is truly special.
ROS Editor: What percent of your cancer patients need some form of radiation therapy?
David Duchemin: Approximately 25% of our patients need some form of radiation therapy. With the advent of new research–bone marrow transplantation in dogs, abdominal radiation therapy for lymphoma in cats, the combination of targeted therapy with radiation–more and more pets will be candidates for radiation therapy.
ROS Editor: Have you seen a noticeable improvement in cancer patient outcomes?
David Duchemin: Absolutely, there has been a very noticeable improvement in both survival time and quality of life in our patients. The fact that we have one of the most advanced linear accelerators in the veterinary market means that we are able to deliver higher doses of radiation therapy with more accuracy than ever before. This will certainly allow us to treat tumors more effectively, while simultaneously maintaining the patient with an incredibly high quality of life.
ROS Editor: What do you think the future holds for veterinary oncology?
David Duchemin: The future is incredibly exciting! People are placing increased value on their pets, often treating them as “family members”. This coupled with the very high rate of cancer in the dog and cat population (6 million dogs and 6 million cats per year) leads us to believe that there will be a very high demand for our services in the near future. In addition, as more and more advanced modalities are available to veterinary oncologists—chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy—we no longer need to put “Fido” down because he has cancer. However, we think the biggest change in veterinary oncology will arise from creating partnerships– like the ones we have with the Animal Cancer Foundation, Animal Clinical Investigation, the Riedel and Cody Fund and research scientists involved in comparative oncology. We believe this model will facilitate more collaboration between pharmaceutical companies, biotech companies, cancer researchers, human oncologists and veterinary oncologists. This collaborative approach holds the promise to yield amazing results over the next 5 to 10 years as we see the increasing use of dogs and cats as models of spontaneous cancer—after all, they share the same environment, drink the same water and breathe the same air as we do. By including this model, along with the traditional mouse model, it is hoped that more effective cancer therapies can be delivered to people in a quicker and less costly manner.