WSAVA Survey Highlights Urgent Need for Global Veterinary Oncology Education

Veterinary healthcare team members rate their knowledge at just five out ten

Veterinary professionals globally rate their knowledge of oncology at just five out ten, according to survey from the newly formed World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Oncology Working Group (WOW). The average score varied by language, with Chinese-speaking respondents rating their knowledge at the highest level (6.6) and Ukrainian-speaking respondents the lowest at 4.2.  In contrast, respondents ranked the actual importance of oncology cases for their practice at seven out of ten, with minimal variation (6.3-7.7) between languages.

Almost 2,000 veterinary professionals from around the world, 95% of them veterinarians, completed the survey in ten languages, during September and October 2021. The results will help the WOW Group prioritize its efforts to educate and support WSAVA members globally in raising standards of care for veterinary oncology patients.

Respondents were also asked to rank the most common tumor types seen in their practice. The most common answer was mammary tumor (81%); followed by skin tumor 75%; abdominal tumor 40%, malignant lymphoma 39%, and other tumors 5%.*  As limited numbers of North American, African, and Oceanic veterinary professionals participated in the survey, this result may not fully reflect regional differences. For instance, in parts of the world, mammary tumor incidence is lower because of a culture of early neutering.

Surgery was the most common therapy used in private practice at 55%; followed by surgery and adjuvant therapy in 30% of cases; chemotherapy in 7% and palliative care in 4%. Immediate euthanasia was recommended in 1% of cases.

While chemotherapy is only currently used by 7% of respondents, when asked which educational resources would be most valuable to them, chemotherapy protocols were requested by 82%.  In addition, 53% asked for information on tumor staging, support with cytology was requested by 51%, information on treatment side-effects by 38%; advice on surgical margins by 36%, on radiation therapy by 24% and on palliative care by 6%.

“Cancer is increasingly common in companion animals, with almost 50% of dogs over 10 years of age developing this devastating disease. To support WSAVA members effectively in treating oncology patients, we wanted to know where they needed help most urgently,” explained Dr Jolle Kirpensteijn, former WSAVA President and Member of the WOW Group. “Our survey is the largest the WSAVA has ever conducted and shows the reach of this well-respected association, which works to share best practice in companion animal veterinary care around the world.”

He added: “It is salutary to see the huge demand for veterinary oncology education all over the world. We have much to do but are excited at the opportunity to support WSAVA members and to offer new hope to oncology patients and their owners globally.”

WOW Group Secretary Dr Ann Hohenhaus, who practices oncology at the Animal Medical Center in New York City, added: “We will use social media, webinars and a range of other channels to ensure maximum reach for the educational tools and resources we are developing. Based on the results of the survey, we have already adapted the focus of our stream during the 2022 WSAVA World Congress in Lima, Peru, to focus on mammary tumors – but there is much more to come before then so stay tuned!”

* Multiple answers were possible in this section

Details of study

Of 1,825 participants surveyed, 95% were veterinarians and 5% other veterinary professionals. Approximately, two-thirds of the respondents were female, one third male, with 0.2% indicating that they were non-binary. All age groups were represented, with 39% between 30-40 years; 28% between 40-50 years; 18% between 20-30 years and 17% older than 50 years. Survey responses were skewed towards Western Europe (48%), followed by Eastern Europe and Russia (22%), Asia (15%), the Americas (11%).  Fewer than 1% of respondents were from Africa and Oceania.

The WSAVA Oncology Working Group (WOW) was established during 2021 under chairmanship of Dr Martin Soberano, a veterinary oncologist working in Mexico City.  The WSAVA represents more than 200,000 veterinarians worldwide through its 115 member associations and works to enhance standards of clinical care for companion animals. Its core activities include the development of WSAVA Global Guidelines in key areas of veterinary practice, including pain management, nutrition and vaccination, together with lobbying on important issues affecting companion animal care worldwide. 

For further information, please contact:

Rebecca George, George PR, Tel: 01449 737281/07974 161108/ email: rebecca@georgepr.com

WSAVA Virtual Congress 2021

The WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) Congress will be held November 13-15, 2021 and the great news it is virtual so you can see it from the comfort of your home. I am excited to give two lectures. One will be about biopsy techniques and results of the WSAVA Oncology Working Group (WoW) and the other about 10 tips in social media. I have made some cool proceedings for both, here are the ones for the social media lecture:

Veterinarians Innovate Surgery Education with Launch of Global Open-Access Study Book

Sep 1, 2021

The Cutting Edge Basic Veterinary Surgery Techniques’ is now available for free download

Two veterinary surgeons have set out to bring the latest veterinary surgical education to veterinarians globally with the launch of an online veterinary surgery book during the Veterinary Innovation Summit 2021.  Dr Jolle Kirpensteijn, one of the two co-editors, says: “Very few veterinary educational books are available free of charge, which limits the distribution of these important resources to regions of the world that most need better access to veterinary education and patient care.” 

The third edition of ‘The Cutting Edge, Basic Veterinary Surgery Techniques’ has been created by veterinary lecturers from both academic and private practice. This specific edition is designed for an open-access web-based platform and is free to download at www.globalveterinarysurgery.net. The Veterinary Innovation Summit took place from August 27-29.

Co-editor Dr Gert ter Haar says: “The cool thing is that students worldwide will be able to use the information for their benefit, improving their surgical knowledge and skills at minimal cost.” 

The 400+ page volume covers a wide array of surgical topics and is not species-specific, enabling all veterinary healthcare team members to enjoy its content without sub-specializing.

“We wanted to launch the book during the Summit as its key themes were innovation and the improvement of access to care in the broadest form of its definition,” explains Dr Kirpensteijn. “By offering royalty-free education tools through a digital and global network, we are changing the world for the better step by step. Now all you need to learn is a mobile phone and a connection to the internet.”

The free download is available here:

Note to editors:

Dr Jolle Kirpensteijn and Dr Gert ter Haar graduated from the Utrecht University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Holland. Jolle is a Diplomate of the American and European College of Veterinary Surgeons and a Past President of the WSAVA. After a 20-year career in academia, he currently works as Chief Veterinary Officer for Hills Pet Nutrition in the USA. Jolle has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles, given more than 250 lectures worldwide, and has received several prestigious awards. Check out his podcasts at purrpodcast.net and his surgery website at globalveterinarysurgery.net

Gert is a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons, also started his career in academics. He gave over 200 national and international lectures on ENT medicine & surgery, hearing research in dogs, and soft tissue/reconstructive surgery in dogs and cats. In 2017, Gert started working in private practice for Anicura in Utrecht, The Netherlands. His current research involves hearing loss in dogs and cats and brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome.

The Cutting Edge 3.0 is free to download

The cover of the new Cutting Edge

After years of hard work, the Cutting Edge 03 is available for the wide world! Gert and I decided to make this edition free of rights for anyone that wants to download the book and use it for their personal benefit. If you hit the book button on top of the menu, you can directly download it. We do ask you to contact us if you want to print it for outside of personal use and for any requests for translations. we are so excited to be able to offer this to every one that is interested in veterinary surgery. Thank you to all our amazing contributors and especially the awesome Karen Parrott (kmparrott@gmail.com) for the beautiful make up and style of the book.