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Recurring Mast Cell cancer help

My dog has Mast Cell cancer and this is the 3rd time it has come back. I would like to know what I can do other than surgery which would require removing her back leg.

Is there anything else I can do?

Thank You


4 Responses to “Recurring Mast Cell cancer help”

  1. Melinda R. Burgwardt, DVM NY says:

    Mast Cell Tumor (MCT) is very common, and one of my own dogs had it. Unfortunately, it can be very aggressive and spread rapidly, both in the area where the original tumor occurred, and also through blood and lymphatic fluid to locations far from the original tumor. Surgery can be difficult on a leg, because to beat MCT a large margin of what looks like normal skin must be removed to try to get all of the individual cells too small to see that can be up to 3 cm away from the visible tumor, but on a leg there is seldom that much skin that can be spared and still be able to close the incision. If the MCT is still confined to just the leg, removing the leg could be a cure and the only way to get it all.

    However, once the MCT has travelled to other parts of the body, it is not curable. Still, many dogs get a lot more seemingly normal time with antihistamines and ulcer medications to prevent the problems caused by releases of histamine from the MCT, and steroids to stabilize the cells and limit inflammatory effects. Chemotherapy drugs can also be helpful to slow the growth of the tumors. My own dog got 15 months after diagnosis that was almost all virtually normal and happy time.

    Amputation scares many people, but many veterinarians agree that the hardest part of an amputation is often getting the owner to allow it. Most dogs do great after amputation as long as their other 3 legs are good, and often act as if they always had 3 legs. Usually within a week after an amputation, owners are glad they had it done because they still have their dog and the dog is doing great. I also saw a video once of a dog that had a front leg amputation (tougher than a back leg) that was herding cattle as if it had always had 3 legs only 17 days after surgery. Veterinarians often joke that dogs and cats are born with 3 legs and a spare.

    However, amputation is only helpful if it cures the problem. It can be difficult to detect cancer cells in other parts of the body until they have created a new tumor big enough to find, so with MCT, there is no guarantee that the amputation WILL be a cure, only the hope that it MIGHT be a cure if done soon enough. It is wise to do staging of the MCT before doing something as drastic as amputation–if the MCT is already elsewhere, your dog may as well enjoy having 4 legs during her remaining lifetime, as amputation will not make a difference.

    Staging is taking blood tests and x-rays to try to detect the cancer elsewhere. If you don’t find it, it doesn’t guarantee it hasn’t spread yet, but it is a good sign that you MIGHT still be able to prevent spread by amputation. Unfortunately, finding anything during staging means the MCT is already unbeatable and then the goal is to just help her get more good time for as long as possible.

    Melinda R. Burgwardt, DVM
    Melinda R. Burgwardt, DVM
    Lancaster, NY

  2. Lisa Langs, DVM - Atlanta, GA says:

    Surgery followed by radiation therapy/chemotherapy can help prevent local recurrence of disease depending on the grade and stage of the mast cell tumor.

    Lisa Langs, DVM
    Georgia Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Care
    Atlanta, GA

  3. Sue Olmos, CTPM - MEd - Naperville, IL says:

    A great deal of research is ongoing using Therapeutic Essential Oils for their anti-tumoral activity. Sandalwood, Frankincense, Myrrh, Grapefruit and Palo Santo lead the lists. Available only from qualified distributors of Young Living Ess. Oils…guaranteed to be 100% therapeutic. I’ve used in my animal therapy practice for over 6 years…was written up in Dog Fancy magazine as well.

    Sue Olmos, CTPM – MEd
    Midstates Myotherapy
    Naperville, IL

  4. T. L. Medinger, DVM - Aurora, IL says:

    I would seek the counsel of a veterinary medical oncologist.

    T. L. Medinger DVM, MS, DACVIM (SAIM)
    VCA Aurora Animal Hospital
    Aurora, IL

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