K-State vet students successfully treat cockatoo’s cancerous mass with radiation

FILE - Cockatoo
FILE - Cockatoo
Published: Apr. 9, 2022 at 12:36 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Students at Kansas State University have successfully completed the school’s first radiation treatment for a cancerous mass on a cockatoo.

Kansas State University says a veterinary student Daria Hinkle has written and published a case report in a prestigious journal about the successful radiation treatment received by a Major Mitchell’s cockatoo at the Veterinary Health Center.

K-State said “Successful radiation treatment of undertail fibrosarcoma in a Major Mitchell’s cockatoo (Lophochroa leadbeateri)” was written by Hinkle, a fourth-year vet student from Wichita, and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Associaiton.

The University said the bird was brought to the Vet Health Center because of a mass found on its tail. Despite the presence of the mass, it said the cockatoo was bright, alert and responsive and appeared otherwise healthy.

A biopsy of the mass was performed by exotic pets and zoological medicine veterinarians David Eshar and Neta Ambar who had been completing an internship in exotic animal medicine.

K-State said the cockatoo was sent home with medication and to way for the diagnostic results, which ultimately were inconclusive as to whether the mass was cancerous or not.

“Once a second biopsy confirmed it to be a malignant type of tumor, we met with Dr. Chieko Azuma from the Oncology Service at the Veterinary Health Center,” Hinkle said. “It was recommended that we provide the cockatoo with a course of definitive radiation therapy with the goal of achieving long-term control.”

The University noted that this was a major challenge in this case - the cockatoo stayed at the Health Center for a month to receive daily radiation treatments under brief, general anesthesia.

“He did great over the course of the hospitalization and almost became the service’s mascot,” said Eshar, associate professor of clinical sciences at the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine. “Our literature review informed us of previous radiation treatments with other parrot cases that were different than the one we used. We were hopeful that the cockatoo could be treated without excessive adverse effects.”

Overall, K-State said the cockatoo received 10 radiation treatments following a protocol similar in scope to radiation treatments for dogs. It said no chemotherapeutic agents were used and a year and a half later the treatments finished and the skin in the radiation field appears completely healed with no signs of reoccurrence.

“This is the second time I’ve been able to write up a case report about the treatment of an avian patient with the help of Dr. Eshar. This publication provides a strong foundation for me as I get closer to pursuing a career in exotic medicine,” said Hinkle, who will graduate with her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in May.

Hinkle said she then plans to begin a small animal rotating internship at North Carolina State University and, in the future, will pursue residency opportunities in zoo medicine.

K-State noted that other authors who contributed to the report include Eshar, Ambar, Azuma and Sarah Schneider, a former anatomic pathologist at the University.

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