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  • Author or Editor: Abby J. Leonardi x
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Chemotherapy is widely used in veterinary oncology but carries real and perceived risks of adverse events (AEs). Human cancer patients perceive AEs from chemotherapy as more severe than do their attending physicians. It is currently unknown whether this discrepancy exists in veterinary oncology. This survey study’s aim was to assess differences in the ways that pet owners and veterinary oncologists perceive chemotherapy-related AEs. We hypothesized that veterinary oncologists would accept higher grade AEs and tolerate a greater risk of AEs of any grade than pet owners.


152 pet owners and 111 veterinary oncologists.


Separate surveys were derived for pet owners and veterinary oncologists. Respondents were asked to define maximally acceptable AE scores and risks of AEs given 3 hypothetical outcomes of treatment: (1) cure, (2) extension of life, and (3) improved quality of life. Statistical tests were used to compare responses between groups.


Veterinary oncologists accepted higher grade AEs if the hypothetical goal of chemotherapy was cancer cure (P = .003) or extension of life (P = .026), but owners accepted higher grade AEs if the goal of chemotherapy was to improve quality of life (P = .002). Owners accepted greater risk of moderate (P < .0001) or serious (P < .0001) AEs across the 3 treatment outcomes.


This was the first study to assess how pet owners and veterinary oncologists differ in their perception of chemotherapy-related AEs. These initial results may help to frame discussions with pet owners on the expectations of chemotherapy.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association