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Sorry, this is going to be long, but I'll try to be as brief as possible. Sadie has routinely undergone blood tests to check on the health of her liver, since she has been on medication for arthritis for a couple years. The last blood test showed very elevated liver enzymes. Her vet recommended a liver ultrasound to check & see if maybe there was some liver disease going on. We had that appointement today. Her liver is significantly diseased, but that turned out to be the lesser problem. The vet found a large mass on her spleen. He said there is no way of knowing from the ultrasound if it is a cyst or benign tumor, or a cancerous tumor, but he added that 65% of these masses end up being cancerous. Here are my options: 1) Biopsy the liver only to determine the type of liver disease & begin treatment of that & ultrasound the spleen in a month. If the mass has not grown, it is likely benign and would only need to be watched. If it has grown, then it would likely be cancer, as they grow quickly & surgery would be necessary then. The big risk of this option, is that if it is cancer, one month could allow it to grow and spread to other organs. Option 2) Remove the spleen & mass and biospy her liver at the same time to determine its problem. The big risk here, is surgery at her age (11yrs) and with a diseased liver. My dilemma: do I wait the month, hoping it's not cancerous, but with the odds against that, possibly giving the cancer time to grow, or do I have them do surgery now, hoping to avoid cancer spread but take the risk of losing her in surgery because of her age and health risks? I know there is no easy answer. As the vet said, if only we had a crystal ball... I have to make the decision that I feel is best, with the risks I can live with. It's just hard to balance doing what you can to extend their lives, but not be unreasonable and put them through too much. Thanks for listening. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated!
 

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I'm sorry to hear about Sadie--I'm going through something similar with one of my dogs right now, too. I really feel for you. :(

You could biopsy the liver now (I'm thinking of a fine needle aspiration biopsy, which can be done under ultrasound). It might give you a diagnosis, especially if the splenic tumor is malignant and has spread to the liver. And a liver FNA doesn't necessarily preclude splenic surgery sooner than a month, if you don't get a diagnosis.

When the Spleen Grows a Mass: A Dog's Perspective.

You and Sadie will be in my thoughts--wishing you both the best.
 

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Sorry to hear this...how horrible! :(

Did the vet say how treatable that type of cancer is (in case it is cancerous)? That might be something to consider, too.

But I agree with Betsy--if they can do a test via needle biopsy, that shouldn't be so dangerous and I would hope it could help them determine what they need to know, rather than going in and just removing things. Much less stressful on the dog, too, I would imagine.

I certainly don't envy your position--been there, done that, (with a cat), so I understand what you're going through. You and Sadie will be in my thoughts and prayers tonight; keep us posted!
 
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So sorry to hear the news! It is a tough decision. When Maggie Mae was 13 during a routine dental cleaning the Vet felt a mass in her abdomen. She recommended we take her to a specialist which we did. They did the fine needle biopsy that Betsy referred to. The results were inconclusive?? The internest suggested we remove her spleen because that was likely cancer but he couldn't say for sure. We opted not to do anything. She was old and showed no signs of pain. I am glad we made that decision. She lived another 2 1/2 years. When she died she went in her sleep. Maybe the biopsy will give you some answers. I think I would start with that. Maggie didn't need to be asleep for that and we waited in the lounge for a couple hours till it was over. We had the results in a matter of days. Maybe then you can make a further decision. I will keep you in my thoughts.
 

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Sorry I can't give any advice, but the others are doing a good job.
No one can tell you what to do, but be assured, what ever you decide to do, you will have the full support of everyone here.
Most of us have been thru similar things with our hounds, and know how you feel. Please keep us posted. And give Sadie a gentle hug...

Sandy
 

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:( I'm so sorry to hear about Sadie. :( I know how hard it is to make life and death decisions for our hounds. I faced the decision "to operate or not operate" about a year ago. Roady was almost 12. I chose not to do surgery and instead put him to sleep because he was acutely ill, in extreme pain and it was highly unlikely that he would survive the surgery. Would have I chosen surgery if there had been a good chance of him living another month or a year? Probably not because there still would have been days of pain and I could not and would not let him go thru another day in pain.

If I were in your situation my biggest fear would be a middle of the night emergency because the spleen was bleeding and having then to make the decision to do surgery or not. No matter if the tumor is benign or malignant, if not removed it's highly likely that it will eventually bleed.

I'd probably want to know what I was dealing with in terms of the liver before I made any decisions.

Sending positive thoughts to Sadie and you and please know that we're here for you.
 

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I have no advice but just wanted you to know you and Sadie will be in my thoughts and prayers today.


Karen
 

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I'm sorry you are having to go through this.

When we found a tumor on Webster's spleen, we elected not to do the surgery due to his age and other health complications. My vet advised me that even with surgery on an otherwise healthy dog the best outcome is generally a maximum of six more months, and I didn't feel it was fair to put him through that. He was not in pain at that time, so I didn't have to make "the" decision right away.

He bloated a month later and had to be euthanized. My vet said that bloat is a possible complication of this type of tumor, so I'd advise you to watch carefully for that.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks everyone, for the kind words. And thanks Betsy for the link to the website. That along with some others I found helped to clarify things for me. The specialist we saw said assuming it is cancer, with surgery and chemotherapy, I might get another year with her. However, according to everthing I read on the net, that seems to be very optimistic. Like you said Soundtrack, what I read is that 6 months is a more reasonable estimate, even with all the treatment available. This type of cancer is just very aggressive. And, since she is 11 years old, with a diseased liver, I am thinking surgery is not fair to her. She would spend whatever time she had left recovering from surgery and going through chemotherapy. So, I am going to call the vet tomorrow and run a few more questions by him, but right now, I am thinking of treating her liver to help make her more comfortable and just letting nature take its course with the mass on her spleen. She has given me so much joy, I feel I owe her the favor of not putting her through anything just to keep her around longer. That would be for me, not her. A co-worker today put it well, I thought. She said "You and I know 11 years is too short, but Sadie does not know how long she has lived. She only knows that she has been loved."
 

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Gawd, Amy, I'm sitting at work all teary-eyed. You are such a loving caregiver -- and your co-worker is very wise indeed.

Cyberhugs to you and Sadie......
 
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I am so sorry to hear this. I really liked your last quote. "She only knows she has been loved"...... Beautiful. You will be in my thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks again for the kind replies. I talked to Sadie's regular vet yesterday and feel much better about my decision to not do surgery. He said that he would not have faulted me had I chosen surgery, but he feels I made the right decision. He agrees that the vet specialist's estimate of another year is very optimistic. And he encouraged me to not lose sight of the fact that a small percentage of these masses are not cancerous. He feels some of the symptoms she is showing may be due to her diseased liver, so we are going Monday to have a liver biopsy done. He feels the liver is a totally separate issue and if the problem is diagnosed, it may be able to be treated, which may cause her to feel better.
 
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