Hi All, not sure if you recall but I posted a couple weeks ago regarding my newly adopted girl and the vet finding a breast mass. I was planning on getting her a second look at another vet but in the meantime last week I found another much more scary feeling hard mass in the opposite side. I took her in for eval. on Friday for which they recommended surgery. From reading up on the subject of mammary cancer, it tends to spread to the lungs so I requested a chest xray be done pre-op (this was not suggested by the vet). Her labwork was OK other than a mildly elevated white count but she has a nodule on her chest xray. The vet suggested she was not sure it could be metastatic disease but that her lungs look "old". The nodule appeared to be fairly good size (although the images were digital and blown up a bit). I researched online and found one page which mentioned metastatic mammary cancer can present as a solitary nodule or a reticular (lacy) appearance to the lungs. So I am feeling a bit lost at the moment. I feel like the vet still encourages surgery (am I the only person who feels jaded that of course they want to operate as it makes money??) It's not the cost of surgery that bothers me but the possibility of putting my sweet girl through a major surgery (spay plus near removal of both mammary chains) and all the risks it entails when her time may be limited to begin with. The shelter estimated her age to be 6 but the vet feels she is really more like in the 8 to 10 yr range. She is such a sweet girl and really acts pretty spunky, though I have thought at times she seems a little short of breath. Ahh, decisions.....decisions. So I vent and ask for some opinions here. Thanks for listening.
Aww, so sorry, Ms. Annie... well, my first feeling is that often it is difficult to get a definitive diagnosis by xray. usually like to confirm by tissue diagnosis reviewed by a Pathologist. ie. a lung nodule could be a number of things. you can make a best guess based on what's on radiograph, but there are often other things it can be...
second is a question-- is there a less invasive/less drastic/less expensive way of finding out if cancer is involved? ie. like biopsy or FNA (fine-needle aspiration). then at least you might be able to get a preliminary answer... (though still might need surgery/open biopsy if they don't get a definitive answer)
third-- re: quality of life issues. If (but paws crossed that it's not...) it is the worst-case scenario you imagine, ie. cancer, would a major surgery like the one your vet is suggesting improve 1. quality of life she has left 2. the odds of prolonging her life... if yes to one or both, then might be good to consider the surgery, even if it is more invasive...
those are my thoughts about your situation. Worm & I sending healing thoughts your way...
ps. also occurs to us that you recently had to deal w/Bentley's cancer one way of looking at it is that if I were Annie and for some reason had cancer, I'd be grateful to be with someone like you, who cares about me and takes care of me, even in my last days... and tries to make me as happy and comfortable as possible..
I have only dealt with mammary cancer once, Myrtle was 11 at the time. A very large tumor was removed. We did have complications due an infection, compounded with veterinary error it resulted in a second surgery with her getting an extreme "tummy tuck" to remove the infected tissue. Despite all this, she recovered quickly and had no further issues in this regard. So overall I'd say it was successful.
Awww Annie and Kathy...this just sucks. We are glad that you are able to think this through clearly and agree that Worm makes some good points regarding biopsies. Annie is very lucky to have found you!
PS...we also think the vet will sometimes jump to the surgical option for the $$$. We hope this isn't the case here though.
I spoke with the vet again today. I voiced my concerns over the chest xray findings. She felt it wasn't typical presentation for metastatic disease, and did not feel comfortable at their facility to do an ultrasound guided needle biopsy of the lung. I am not comfortable doing that either really. As for the aspirates of the breasts they can be done but if the mass is sizeable (which they are) it really is not definitive to rule out cancer as you may miss the cancerous part with the needle, say if it is a mixed tumor. I had originally thought the same thing as Worm but did research it online some and the general concensus seems surgical removal is recommended. Annie needs spayed anyways so she was facing surgery before the other complications cropped up. So I have decided to proceed and will hope for the best, just pray she does OK and recovers quickly. @ Soundtrack, sorry you had to deal with mammary cancer......how long after surgery did your girl go on and was it cancer complications that sent her to the bridge? I have found variable prognosis regarding these, I guess it depends on the the type of tumor and the amount of spread. I know I am jumping to conclusions this is cancer, but 50% of breast tumors are cancerous so just preparing. Also Worm, you are right 2 hounds with cancer diagnosis in 8 months is more than I like to think about.......but I will most definitely give her lots of love whatever we may deal with. So sad such a special gal who produced who knows how many pups for someone only to be discarded like the trash and now having to deal with female complications from it all......grrrrr. I'll take care of you Annie.
I did not have the tumor tested, since even if it was malignant removal was the only treatment I was prepared to put her through at her age, however it was extremely large. She lived another 1 1/2 years (to 12 1/2) and had no further complications from the tumor that we were aware of.
Since she's having the spay anyway, I'd say you might as well go ahead with the removal.