I wanted to share these photos from last week, and ask a question concerning chemotherapy in pets.
First on a happy note, Look who returned this week for their puppy vaccination.
Cujo. Can you tell he's growing from the photo? The first photo is from 4 weeks ago. The second one is from last Monday.
Now, here's my question. Last week I had to euthanize a 9 1/2 year old German Shepherd patient with bone cancer in her forelimb. She weighed over 100 lbs. 10 years old for a dog that big is about the human equivalent of 78 years old. Just for reference.
She was lame last December. We put her on arhritis medications for a few days-weeks, but that didn't seem to give her much relief. So we shot a radiograph (an x-ray). You could see areas of bone missing, which puts bone cancer on top of the list of possibilities. There was a little swelling around her joint but not terribly noticeable.
So, I sent her and rads to an orthopedic surgeon, since they deal with these cases more than I do . She needed a bone biopsy to confirm the lesion as osteosarcoma, but since the prognosis wasn't very good, her owners decided to try and make her comfortable for as long as possible.
This were their options for patients with osteosarcoma-
Amputation alone has a median survival time of 3-4 months.
Amputation and cisplatin (chemo) have a median survival time of 260 to 400 days. The 1 year survival range is 38% to 62%.
For a human, that doesn't sound like very long. For a large dog, a year is relatively longer in time reference.
J had been on narcotic pain meds but last week they noticed she seemed more uncomfortable and having way more diffuculty getting around.
I will say this though- I initially wasn't sure how well a 110lb. dog would be able to get around with missing a front leg. The orthopedic surgeon said that they do well since they are already accustomed to walking on 3 legs by avoiding weight bearing on the affected limb.
Here are photos I took of her leg last week. I had not seen J in several months and was expecting the tumor to be larger. There probably was also some metastasis to her lungs, which were still clear on radiographs back in January.
So my question is this. What would you have done? Knowing now that she made it almost a year, without surgery and without chemo, would you have done things differently?
Some owners might not be able to afford surgery, hospitalization, labwork and chemotherapy.
Chemo costs more in big dogs, than little dogs, as the drugs are dosed by weight.
In J's case, I think it was a little of it all- the poor prognosis, the expense, and not wanting to put her through all that.
Years ago, I had another German Shepherd who had lymphosarcoma. She did go through Chemotherapy over 12-15 weeks, and did quite well. She stayed in remission for about a year, and then when the cancer returned her owners opted to euthanize her too. But that is about the extent of practical experience I've had with chemotherapy.
Have any of you had a pet go through Chemotherapy? How did it go? Would you do it again, in hindsight?