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First Sea Lion Treated for Cancer with Advanced Radiation

First Sea Lion Treated for Cancer with Advanced Radiation

Thanks to an effective three-fold partnership between the Pittsburgh Zoo and the Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center (PVSEC) and PetCure Oncology, a Sea Lion has a new lease on life.

Zookeepers discovered a few months ago that Zoey, a a 23-year old California sea lion, had been afflicted with an aggressive type of cancer called oral squamous cell carcinoma.

In search of answers to treating Zoey, the Zoo team transported her in August to PVSEC, where they performed a CT scan of her skull and thorax to map the tumor and check for metastasis. The scans came back negative for metastasis, giving the team PetCure the all-clear to begin its treatment plan. Zoey received stereotactic radiation.

According to PetCure, “SRS/SRT attacks cancerous tissue with unprecedented precision, destroying it with minimal damage to surrounding organs. This novel treatment enables veterinary radiation oncologists to target cancer in delicate locations such as the brain or mouth. The treatment is administered in only one to three sessions, reducing the need for prolonged multiple treatment sessions by up to 95%.”

Within a day, Zoey was back to swimming at the Zoo.

She is responding well to treatments–resuming a normal diet while participating in daily training sessions. Aquarium keepers will continue to closely monitor Zoey and administer a regular routine of medications to ensure that she has the best chance for beating the cancer.

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