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Ask the Veterinarian/Lung cancer diagnosis in 10-year-old

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Question
My 10 year old Peekapoo Bailey was recently diagnosed with lung cancer.  Tumor is about the size of his heart.  Biopsy says it's malignant, but surgeon believes it is self contained right now, in situ.  We will see our vet today to talk and learn.  But I wanted an outside opinion.

We are thinking about avoiding surgery and treating with meds.  What can we expect with surgery and follow up treatments?  What can we expect without surgery, and treatment only with medicines?  What would be your choice if Bailey were your pet?

Answer
Wow Howard, this is a hard one.
Let me just tell you what I went through. I recently lost my almost 14 yr old dog to a cancer that metastasized to her lungs. It started on her left leg as a small tumor that went away after we injected it. Two years later it came back and wouldn't go away. It became very painful for her, so I spoke to my vet and then also another vet that I trusted.

The consensus was that surgery was an option,but there was no way of knowing if it had already spread. I had the tumor removed from her leg and she did really well for 2 months. Then the cancer decided to invade her leg as well, all the while going into her lungs.

I had to put her down the day after Thanksgiving. She had the surgery on July 8th. The point is, that either way, I lost her. Do I regret her having the surgery? No, only because it was on HER LEG. It was better than amputation, which is what everyone wanted me to do. If it had been a back leg, yes, I would have, but it was a front leg.

If my dog had lung cancer, I would NOT have surgery done, not on a 10 yr old dog, depending on what the PROGNOSIS was before surgery. Are they giving you another year or two if it's done? Then do it. If they are telling you six months, then you will get that with medications most likely, without putting your dog through the hell of recovery.

So it's a very hard choice to make, but make it on the long or short term prognosis. I don't have anything to do with cancer treatments, but they are a lot like human ones. If you do chemo it's the same- everyone but your dog gears up because the drugs are so toxic, and then they give your dog an infusion over a period of time.

Since I am not a vet and can't give you a prognosis, you really need to rely on your vet for that. I hope that you are able to make the choice that YOU CAN LIVE With, because it is YOU that will beat yourself up if you think you made the wrong one.

Ask questions over and over until your vet is open, honest and transparent with you. Tell them you need an HONEST appraisal of the situation, not a pie-in-the-sky-one. Ask them to repeat anything you don't get. Don't be intimidated, JUST ASK.

Your vet, if they are worth their degree, will be honest if called on to do so. Everyone wants what's best for your dog- so make sure that your choice follows what your heart feels is the right thing to do.

Wishing you and your dog the best... please let me know the outcome if you can..

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT

Expertise

PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!

Experience

I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

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Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Education/Credentials
Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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