Diagnosed with Cancer Today

Here is where we can discuss canine cancers and treatment options to create a support system for those dealing with the disease.

Postby loudog » March 10th, 2011, 9:46 pm

Hi guys.

I'm brand new to the forum, and stumbled upon it while doing research for the diagnosis I received today... I posted an introduction here: http://pitbulltalk.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=34753 if you want to read it.

I'll give a little background, first.

My dog is a 6-year-old Boston Terrier/Chihuahua mix that I've owned for about 4 years. He's always done the reverse sneezing thing when he's excited- walks, balls (he's obsessed), etc. About three weeks ago he started making a similar noise, but it was a little different- more honking/snorting sounding. He would start doing it even when he wasn't excited, and even in his sleep.

A few days after I noticed that, he started sneezing, and a couple times it was blood. I immediately made an appointment at the vet, and he was seen two days later.

They said it could be a foreign object, or some type of illness, so he was put on a steroid. A week later, he was the same. I took him back and we put him on an antibiotic to rule out said illness. The sneezing continued, but not very frequently, and he would sneeze blood only after doing something somewhat strenuous, like a walk, where he got excited. I noticed that the blood was only out of his right nostril, and it also seemed like he wasn't able to breathe out of that side either.

About five days later there was a night that he was not sleeping. He was up all night snorting and having trouble breathing. My gut said it wasn't going to get better on it's own, so that morning I called my vet who referred me to a specialist. The next day I had a consult with them, and they said our next step was a rhinoscopy.

Last Friday he had his rhinoscopy, and unfortunately they found a tumor. They said they were very vigorous with the biopsy, getting most of what they could see out. They said best case, a fungal infection, worst case, cancer.

Today the vet called to deliver the results of the biopsy, and revealed that my dog has cancer- sinonasal carcinoma.

I had been doing a lot of research in between the time of his rhinoscopy and the diagnosis. I read that 80% of nasal tumors are malignant, so I had been bracing myself for the worst. I wasn't sure if I was psyching myself out, but since his rhinoscopy my gut said cancer.

I was still upset talking to the vet this morning, but at least it didn't come out of left field. She said the best thing to do would be radiation, with second best being chemo. With treatment he may have a year to a year and a half, without 6-9 months.

If money weren't an issue, I still don't think I'd do radiation. The absolute first thing is I don't think I want to put my dog through that, but the second thing is that there are only two places "close" to me that offer the radiation treatment- in Seattle (three hours away) and Pullman (actually where I went to school), which is 6 hours away. I read about how time consuming radiation is, and I can't take that much time off of work.

I'm researching chemo now, but at this point, I'm still thinking it's not an option I want to do. What led me to this forum was Sophie's story, which was great to read about the experience.

My dog is very sensitive, and I just don't know if I can justify making him ill and feeling poor, just to have a possible few months left. I can't explain to him why I would keep bringing him someplace that doesn't make him feel good, and I think that's the toughest part.

I still feel conflicted, however, and I feel like if I didn't do treatment I'd be a bad "mom," for not giving him the best chance. But on the other hand, I'm most worried about his quality of life. At this point, he's 100% himself. He eats and drinks fine, he runs around the house playing with his toys and tormenting the cat, and he's just in general a happy dog.

As soon as I got the results this morning, I left work and came home to spend time with him. I've gone through periods of being okay, and then just sitting there crying my eyes out. I was doing mostly okay this afternoon, then my boyfriend came home and started crying, and that triggered it all over again.

The thing that gets me, which I think is stupid, is thinking about the actual euthanasia, if/when that's what it comes down to. I've had animals my whole life, and we've had to put a lot to sleep for various reasons, but I've never actually been the one that's there to see it. This is the first dog I've had on my own, so obviously I'll be there. Every time I think about that part, that's when I start crying... which again, I think is silly, considering everything that would/could lead up to that.

So anyway.... does anyone have any input, experiences, or general comments? I would really appreciate hearing everything.
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Postby mnp13 » March 10th, 2011, 9:51 pm

I'm so sorry to hear about the diagnosis. Thank you for joining, you'll get lots of support and info here. Never feel shy about venting, complaining, or just "talking." That's what we're here for.
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Postby plebayo » March 10th, 2011, 10:44 pm

Welcome to the forum... I'm sorry you had to join under these circumstances :hug3:

I still feel conflicted, however, and I feel like if I didn't do treatment I'd be a bad "mom," for not giving him the best chance. But on the other hand, I'm most worried about his quality of life. At this point, he's 100% himself. He eats and drinks fine, he runs around the house playing with his toys and tormenting the cat, and he's just in general a happy dog.


You could try just giving oral piroxicam. The only issue with this medication is that it could potentially cause some kidney issues/potential for kidney failure but the rate is pretty slim IMO. As you read in my postings, I had Sofie on oral piroxicam and did doxorubicin/carboplatin chemo treatments alternating between the two. Some dogs handle the chemo really well and I can't really say Sofie had any serious ill effects from it initially. However, she did eventually get pancreatitis from a treatment of doxo, and that is when I decided to stop doing chemo.

Piroxicam is a really good anti-inflammatory and would help with pain and potentially shrink the tumor.

I know one university was doing a study with the drug palladia. It was made for mast cell tumors but may be effective on nasal tumors. That might be something to try and google, maybe you could try that drug.

I agree with not doing radiation. I read a blog about a dog that had a nasal tumor and the radiation on the face caused the dog to lose eyesight, I couldn't imagine doing that to my dog even if money was no object.

If you choose not to treat your dog you aren't being a bad dog mom. Not wanting to cause your dog pain from treatment is not being neglectful. You have to decide what is best for you and for your dog. If you don't want to do chemo no one is going to judge you for it. If you just want him to live out his time, that's totally fair.

The thing that gets me, which I think is stupid, is thinking about the actual euthanasia, if/when that's what it comes down to. I've had animals my whole life, and we've had to put a lot to sleep for various reasons, but I've never actually been the one that's there to see it. This is the first dog I've had on my own, so obviously I'll be there. Every time I think about that part, that's when I start crying... which again, I think is silly, considering everything that would/could lead up to that.


I was always worried I wouldn't know when was the right time. As it was Sofie's kidneys went out and that made the decision for me. I always told myself if the tumor broke through the skin, or she started having bad nose bleeds/breathing issues that is when I would decide it was time. I was really happy with the results of the chemo and although the tumor had definitely gotten bigger again towards the end of her life, it was only causing more sneezing, so the chemo really knocked it back for a good year before she started sneezing again.

The whole situation sucks and I'm sorry you have to go through this. Cancer blows.
Suzanne
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♥♥Sofie - Always in my heart. ♥♥
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Postby Jenn » March 10th, 2011, 10:49 pm

Bless your heart, I'm sure you're beyond devastated ... Sending nothing but the best of thoughts to all of you. :hug3:
I used to think I was indecisive, but now I'm not so sure....
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Postby plebayo » March 10th, 2011, 10:59 pm

I looked at your join post Louie is so adorable!
Suzanne
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Postby mnp13 » March 10th, 2011, 11:39 pm

plebayo wrote:If you choose not to treat your dog you aren't being a bad dog mom. Not wanting to cause your dog pain from treatment is not being neglectful. You have to decide what is best for you and for your dog. If you don't want to do chemo no one is going to judge you for it. If you just want him to live out his time, that's totally fair.


This. x1000

a long time ago, someone got very angry for saying what I am about to say:
Treating your dog's cancer does no make you a "good" owner. Not treating it does not make you a "bad owner." It is a very personal decision based on a million different factors that no one has any right to judge.
Michelle

Inside me is a thin woman trying to get out. I usually shut the bitch up with a martini.
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Postby ParisStreetPitCrew » March 10th, 2011, 11:54 pm

mnp13 wrote:
plebayo wrote:If you choose not to treat your dog you aren't being a bad dog mom. Not wanting to cause your dog pain from treatment is not being neglectful. You have to decide what is best for you and for your dog. If you don't want to do chemo no one is going to judge you for it. If you just want him to live out his time, that's totally fair.


This. x1000

a long time ago, someone got very angry for saying what I am about to say:
Treating your dog's cancer does no make you a "good" owner. Not treating it does not make you a "bad owner." It is a very personal decision based on a million different factors that no one has any right to judge.


Very nicely said, gals.
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Postby airwalk » March 11th, 2011, 12:16 am

mnp13 wrote:
plebayo wrote:If you choose not to treat your dog you aren't being a bad dog mom. Not wanting to cause your dog pain from treatment is not being neglectful. You have to decide what is best for you and for your dog. If you don't want to do chemo no one is going to judge you for it. If you just want him to live out his time, that's totally fair.


This. x1000

a long time ago, someone got very angry for saying what I am about to say:
Treating your dog's cancer does no make you a "good" owner. Not treating it does not make you a "bad owner." It is a very personal decision based on a million different factors that no one has any right to judge.


X1000. I'm sorry this was your diagnosis, I know how devasting cancer can be. You need to do what is right for you, your dog, your family, your resources and your beliefs. We are here to support you.
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Postby pocketpit » March 11th, 2011, 1:37 am

I agree with what everyone else has already said. Treating cancer is a very personal decision and no one should be judged for doing what they feel is best in their situation.
I had a dog with lymphoma and I chose to treat her. She did amazingly well and I got lucky and enjoyed another 14 months with her. But I work with animals that get chemo all the time and I have to say many of them dont' do so well and I would never put my animal through that. Recently we've had a ferret being treated for lymphoma. Initially it responded very well but crashed this last week. The owners have spent $7500 on him because they love him so much. However money can't guarantee quality of life and this little guy is suffering now.
I'm just using these as examples of how no choice is a wrong one. I'm sorry you have to deal with this but whatever you do , it'll be the right thing.
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Postby iluvk9 » March 11th, 2011, 6:49 am

You sound like a wonderful dog owner and you WILL make the best decision for Louie.

I am sorry for the diagnosis. We all agree here, that cancer sucks. But there are many people here who will help you through this, either with suggestions, ideas or just support.

On a personal note, my Black Lab, Louie had a cancerous growth in his pad. First, we removed the pad, then the digit. When the Vet gave the option of removing the leg, I said no to that and no to chemo. A few months after Louie passed, my Lab/Chow, Carlos Garcia was diagnosed with lymphoma. Again, I said no to chemo. BUT a few of my close friends had dogs who needed chemo and since they chose it, I donated a little to help them out, because THEY felt it was right for THEIR dogs.

Remember: No one lives your life but you. And you WILL make the best medical decisions all along for Louie.
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Postby TheRedQueen » March 11th, 2011, 9:16 am

Another story of a dog with cancer...my mix Elwood was diagnosed with Lymphoma, and I too decided NO chemo...for many reasons. He lived out the rest of his life, happy as he could be...and I never regretted my decision. I have friends with dogs going through chemo, and I support them whole-heartedly. :hug3:
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Postby hugapitbull » March 11th, 2011, 10:07 am

Welcome, and I am so sorry about your diagnosis. There are MANY of us here who have been down the cancer road or are currently on the journey. It isn't easy, and the decisions are just mind boggling. Before you make a decision to treat or not treat have all the facts you can possibly have, know what is reasonable in your circumstance - money/time/etc., and then decide based on quality of life for Louie. There are no wrong choices. We each do the best we can do with what we have to work with.

Many good thoughts to you.
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Postby TinaMartin » March 11th, 2011, 10:12 am

You are not a bad dog mom. You have to do whats right for you and your dog. No one else can make that decision for you.
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Postby madremissy » March 11th, 2011, 10:13 am

I can't add much to what everyone else has already said. Just know that everyone here will support you in whatever decision you make.
Welcome to the forum.
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Postby loudog » March 11th, 2011, 11:28 am

You guys truly are amazing- thank you.

For the Piroxicam- is that something I should talk to my normal vet about, or should I make an appointment with the oncologist? The specialist I went to recommended making an appointment with the oncologist to talk about options, I think that might be something to look into.

Is there a ballpark range on the cost of chemo?

When doing chemo, what is the order of events? I remember reading about Sophie and an IV... is it like that for each treatment? About how many treatments and how often?

Lots to think about, and again, thank you guys.

I have to leave for work, so will probably do some research during the day, and possibly have more questions tonight :)
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Postby plebayo » March 11th, 2011, 4:52 pm

loudog wrote:For the Piroxicam- is that something I should talk to my normal vet about, or should I make an appointment with the oncologist? The specialist I went to recommended making an appointment with the oncologist to talk about options, I think that might be something to look into.

Is there a ballpark range on the cost of chemo?

When doing chemo, what is the order of events? I remember reading about Sophie and an IV... is it like that for each treatment? About how many treatments and how often?

Lots to think about, and again, thank you guys.

I have to leave for work, so will probably do some research during the day, and possibly have more questions tonight :)


You could go to the oncologist but if money is potentially an issue you can do to a vet who has experience doing chemo and treating cancer. Depending on where you're located [I'm in Hillsboro] the veterinary clinic I work for has a lot of experience treating cancer and the chemo would cost you less. Ultimately an oncologist is going to know more because that is their area of study and practice, but it also costs a lot more. The piroxicam is something you could talk to your regular vet about, if your vet looks on VIN [the veterinary forum] there's an article about chemo treatment using piroxicam and doxorubicin/carboplatin for dogs with nasal tumors if your vet is wondering where the information comes from.

As far as cost I'm not sure how much each time would cost with an oncologist. For a 100lb Malamute getting carboplatin at the clinic I work at I think it cost them $400 each round of chemo. We had a dog getting vincristine injections for a mast cell tumor in the eye and I think it costs the owners $250 each injection. Again, I am not sure how much more it is for an oncologist to do it. The thing is, even if you could only do 1 or two treatments, it will potentially buy you more time, so even if you can't go the full course of chemo, it can still help.

As far as the IV goes it depends on the chemo protocol you go on. Doxorubicin is given IV, so you would drop your dog off at the clinic, they would place a catheter, they dilute the doxo down with 300-500mls of Normosol [IV fluids] and give the doxo over the course of an hour or two, I'm not sure exactly on the time frame but you would expect with a doxo treatment to leave your pet there for part of the day.

For the carboplatin they will also place a catheter, dilute the carboplatin down with 35mls of saline and give it slowly over the course of about 30mins, a couple mls at a time. [At least this is how we do this one.] For this would also leave your dog there for part of the day.

For other chemo, like vincristine which is typically used to lymphoma we usually use a butterfly catheter, which isn't a permanent catheter and the dr gives the injection and the dog goes home right away.

These are the only chemos I really have experience with. Also with every chemo they would draw blood to check the white blood cell count and make sure your dog is well enough to have the chemo.

As far as the doxo/carboplatin go I'm not sure how many times we were going to do it. I think you can only give doxo up to 5 times, I'm assuming we might have done 5 of each but I honestly can't remember how many weeks of treatment we were supposed to go for, I think we did a treatment every 2-3 weeks.


IMO if you aren't going to do the chemo route, but you want to try something I think the piroxicam would be helpful.
Suzanne
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Postby Emi » March 11th, 2011, 7:45 pm

Hello and welcome, sorry to hear about your DX with Louie, but you will know what to do that is right for him and you. He's a little cute, so are your other pets :) I have a black kitty cat also.

You'll find alot of support here, suggestions, etc. And as some one else said "Cancer sucks"...
/hugs to you both .
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Postby FAB dogs » March 11th, 2011, 8:19 pm

Totally agree with everything everyone has already said. And don't ever let anyone make you feel like a bad mom for not going through the chemo and radiation. You have to do what's right for both your dog and you. Period. As far as the euthanasia goes, well that sucks and never gets easier no matter how many dogs you have. But it really is quite peaceful for your dog and most vets are wonderful about making it easy on you. When you start to see your dog suffering, and you know it's time, it's almost a blessing to be able to make the pain go away.

Hugs to you and your little guy!
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Postby loudog » March 12th, 2011, 12:22 am

Thanks again, everyone.

I think the hardest part right now is that Louie is just Louie. He's 100% himself. The rhinoscopy completely helped and he doesn't snort/breathe funny/snore or anything. He's just back to what he was weeks ago before I started noticing symptoms.

It's hard to think he's going to start deteriorating, and makes me wonder what I'll notice first. I'm hypersensitive to everything, and I know I'll start obsessing about anything that could possibly be a sign of something going wrong.

I did notice a little bump on his butt right after we left the vet from the rhinoscopy last week. It was raised and rounded, with no hair, and maybe half the diameter as a pencil eraser. Do you think this is related to the cancer, or maybe just a random bump? Does this type of cancer spread throughout the body, or is it isolated to his head/nose area?

Another thing I think of, is if I were to just let him go on and on and on (not something I would do if I notice him in pain), how would he eventually die? I mean, obviously of the cancer, but what about the cancer would cause death? Or would he just feel so sick he would stop eating/drinking, and die of malnutrition? This is so morbid, but I'm trying to wrap my head around this, and I just can't figure it out.

Just kind of wondering out loud :-/
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Postby plebayo » March 12th, 2011, 1:30 am

I did notice a little bump on his butt right after we left the vet from the rhinoscopy last week. It was raised and rounded, with no hair, and maybe half the diameter as a pencil eraser. Do you think this is related to the cancer, or maybe just a random bump? Does this type of cancer spread throughout the body, or is it isolated to his head/nose area?


It stays in the nose, can spread through the bone, break through the bone and skin. It can also invade the brain. The bump on his butt could be a number of different things, you might call the vet and ask if they had seen it.

Another thing I think of, is if I were to just let him go on and on and on (not something I would do if I notice him in pain), how would he eventually die? I mean, obviously of the cancer, but what about the cancer would cause death? Or would he just feel so sick he would stop eating/drinking, and die of malnutrition? This is so morbid, but I'm trying to wrap my head around this, and I just can't figure it out.


As the tumor grows he may lose his ability to smell which may cause him to not want to eat so he could go that way... more than likely depending on location the tumor would probably invade the brain and cause seizures. Everything I have read and seen in videos on youtube has been the tumor invading the brain and causing neurological symptoms. He could also stop eating as a neurological symptom. It may not be a quick death depending on how the tumor grows. It could be a long process.
Suzanne
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