Fri Oct 19, 2018, 01:00 AM

With a Rise in Chemotherapy for Pets, Veterinary Staff Is at Increased Risk for Exposure


October 18, 2018 05:00 AM

Updated October 18, 2018 05:00 AM

During a 2006 biopsy of a worrisome growth on his thyroid gland, while a needle was still lodged in his neck, Arizona veterinarian Brett Cordes was surprised by a question from his endocrinologist.

The doctor, Cordes said, “asked me if I handled chemotherapy and hazardous drugs” at work, and he acknowledged that he did. For Cordes, who eventually was found to have a rare thyroid affliction called Hurthle cell cancer, the exchange with the physician was life-changing. Cordes vowed that, from then on, he would protect himself from the risky exposures that veterinarians and their assistants can encounter on the job, and would urge colleagues to do the same. Cordes remembered thinking to himself at the time, “I’m not as invincible as I thought I was, and I’m too cavalier. What have I been doing all this time?”

Fortunately Cordes, at age 47, says he now is considered cancer free. It’s impossible to know for sure what caused his disease. But Cordes, who began working in a veterinary clinic doing cleanup while in his teens, is convinced it was his longtime on-the-job exposure to chemotherapies and other hazardous drugs used to treat pets. It spurred him to become an advocate in a successful push for tougher safety standards, due to take effect in December 2019, for handling hazardous drugs in veterinary medicine and throughout health care.

Working as a veterinarian or as an assistant in a veterinary clinic never has been for the faint-hearted. While bites and scratches are the most common injuries, other hazards abound. They include accidental needlestick punctures, afflictions known as zoonotic diseases that can pass from animals to humans, back injuries from lifting and holding animals, along with exposure to anesthetic gases and radiation.

But cancer treatment for pets has boomed in recent decades, reflecting a surge in spending on veterinary care as Americans increasingly have doted on their dogs and cats. The growing amount of chemotherapy has raised a safety threat: increased exposure to drugs that not only treat cancer but can also cause the disease, as well as other afflictions.


You would be tasked to find a more dog loving soul than myself but if one of my dogs(kids) is diagnosed with a cancer that requires chemo/radiation, that just isn't going to happen.

I'll bring them home, spoil the hell out of them until they let me know it is "time to go".

The Veterinarian occupation is being bought up by corporate "money-changers" who's only motive is "profit", i.e. VCA, Inc. (Veterinary Centers of America)

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