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Thread: Mast Cell Tumor help

  1. #1
    Senior Member suepuff's Avatar
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    Default Mast Cell Tumor help

    Greetings everyone. I have a 10 year old neutered male lab that had a MCT removed last week. Of course it's a grade 2 and we're not sure of margins due to where the darn thing is located. I am playing phone tag with my vet now as he's talked to an oncologist who looked at the biopsy results.

    I know with good margins on a MCT, prognosis is good. This boy is from a long lived line. His mother died at 15 as did two or three maternal generations prior to her. So though 10 is technically an oldster, he is not ready to retire and should have more time left. In his brief voicemail to me, my vet listed three options: Surgery again once healed to try and get better margins (see pic if I can get it attached), Chemo or radiation. He is 10. Bloodwork is great. But that's at least another anesthesia and if radiation, daily for 19 days. The area removed is the size of my complete hand. Very close to the skull. The tumor itself was very unusual, oval and flat, lots of fingers. 40 staples and a drain. I have pictures of that too if anyone wants to see and isn't grossed out.

    I have no experience with this. We thought it was lipoma and just did a needle aspirate for kicks and giggles.

    Anyone have any experiences, recommendations, data?

    Thanks!

    Coal MCT.jpg

    Sue Puff
    Sue Puffenbarger
    Wirtz, VA
    www.boynelabradors.com

  2. #2
    Senior Member Good Dogs's Avatar
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    Our 10 year old bitch had a softball sized tumor removed from her hip, but the tumor was well contained and had not penetrated the muscle tissue. Prognosis was good and 5 months later she made it thru 4 series at the Master National. We were fortunate to not have to make the decision you're facing. I can't offer any suggestions other than to do what you think is best for pup. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Senior Member JusticeDog's Avatar
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    Did they say you needed wider margins based on the pathology? I have a friend who went through this with a 5 year old golden. MCT also in a bad spot- under the neck. She opted for additional surgery by a board certified surgeon instead of her regular vet who was not comfortable with it. Hers was a low 2, on the new 3 point scale. It used to be 4 point scale. She goes every 6 months to the oncologist to do an ultrasound to see if the cancer has returned. What is the confidence level of the surgeon on being able to clean up the margins, if needed? I would be concerned about radiation in that area since it is over the top of the base of the skull, with the cervical spine right there. Are they ok with that? I would want to make sure that radiation would not paralyze the dog. Don't mean to scare you, bit I know you are an intelligent owner who likes to have all the details and ask all the questions. Chemo may be a good option.

    they say that MCTs are not genetic, but have an allergic/histamine component. Did they dose him full of Pepcid and Benadryl prior to surgery? Even post op. If you disrupt the mass, it helps to keep the cells from spreading.

    I must say, say, the incision is far from gross. I always appreciate a good incision, have worked as a therapist with surgical patients. This one will heal nicely and be flat. Eventually, you could probably put a collar over it, if he wears one.

    i have a young one who had a grade I MCT. It was on his belly and looked like Chandler Bing's 3rd nipple. I was told just to watch it.... But when I looked under magnification it had spidery veins running through it. It was small. We needle aspirated it, and it didn't have mast cells in the aspirate but the debris behind it was reminiscent of mast cell debri. He had surgery removal, and it was a mast cell.

    Tumors no no longer appear like we think. The tumor on my Gavel's leg was flat as a pancake. The surgeon said he didn't know how I found it.

    Go talk to the oncologist directly. They can answer all your questions about MCTs, which are definitely a different kind of tumor. Good or luck with your dog. I hope he lives a long and healthy life like his mom!
    Last edited by JusticeDog; 11-06-2013 at 07:50 AM.
    Susan

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  4. #4
    Member Trent Goree's Avatar
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    We went through something similar last year with our Vizsla. Hers MCT was grade 3 and progressed very quickly. We chose to do chemo. It was extremely expensive and it didn't work. We had to put her down a few months before she was 8 years old. It's a tough choice.

    And as a matter of fact, I took my 9 year old male lab in to the vet yesterday and they found a MCT on his hip that is about the size of a marble (thought to self: "Is this crap really happening again?"). Surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday. I'm trying to stay possitive, but with our past experience, it's tough. He's the best thing that ever happened to to aside from my wife and kids. I just try to be the person he thinks I am...

    It's tough deal. I think you have to take into account the age of the dog a lot. It was also really tough on our Vizsla to go through the chemo. She didn't feel well most of the time. I won't be putting another dog of mine through chemo unless they're EXTREMELY young, less than 5. I'll certainly do the surgery for the removal of the MCT, but no more chemo for us. Looking back on our situation, it was selfish of us to try the chemo. We just wanted to hang on to her for a little longer, delaying the inevitable.

    Best of luck to you and your pup. It's kind of a slap in the face when something like this happens. Make sure to enjoy every second you can with them.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Keith Stroyan's Avatar
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    Lulu had mast cell tumors removed in 2006 and my vet said he thought he got it all, but realistically she had six months. She died in 2010 over 13 yrs and led a very good life with little other treatment until near the end. It's a bad way to go.

  6. #6
    Senior Member JusticeDog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trent Goree View Post

    It's tough deal. I think you have to take into account the age of the dog a lot.
    .
    It's the AGE and STAGE of the tumor that needs to be considered in tandem. Unfortunately, yours was a the III. My condolences on the loss of your dog. Stage II is in the middle, treatment does work on stage II mast cell tumors.

    Chemo does not typically affect dogs like it does humans. I have used chemo and I have stopped Chemo when is apparent that it is not working. Keeping them alive at all costs is selfish, trying to make them better is not. I have no regrets forever trying chemo on one of my dogs.
    Last edited by JusticeDog; 11-06-2013 at 01:06 PM.
    Susan

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  7. #7

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    Our first lab acquired mast cell tumors on two of his toes when he was about 2 1/2 years old. To achieve the proper margins we had to have those two toes removed. In a follow up visit with a canine oncologist we were told that he would require ten chemo treatments at $275 per treatment (this was 1998). At the time we simply could not afford that course of action.
    Upon hearing the oncologist's recommendation and faced with the realization that that we could not afford it, my wife had a minor breakdown and started to cry in the vet's office.
    Thankfully the oncologist, a young woman, was very compassionate and empathetic and while trying to calm my wife down she told us of a cancer treatment study that she was directly involved with while in vet school (I think she said Colorado State). In that study they administered daily doses of fish oil and vitamin C to treat dogs that were suffering from advanced stage cancers (various). The oncologist told us that she had witnessed firsthand, that in some of those patients the complete remission of cancer by doing nothing other than providing daily supplements of fish oil and vitamin C. She was very clear in explaining to us that she was not making any promises, but that if she owned our lab, she would at least try the daily fish oil/vitamin C regimen.
    We did just that. Long story made short, our lab, with two toes missing hunted until he was almost nine and lived to be 10 .
    Mast cell tumors are not necessarily a death sentence. Insomuch as your dog is in the "winter" of his life, you may want to think long and hard before putting him through chemo or radiation.
    Prayers sent for you and your dog. God bless.
    Last edited by 36bound; 11-06-2013 at 10:18 AM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Rainmaker's Avatar
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    I had one removed from a 5 y/o Lab (already spayed by then), staged & graded, II, the vet didn't get clean margins, U vet wanted to do more surgery, chemo, radiation. It was a bad spot in her chest, would have required cutting and resectioning muscle, hospital stay on IV pain meds, etc. Tippy was a mama's girl, hated vets more than anything on earth and had already had years of misery with them with multiple surgeries, severe allergies, just an unhealthy dog from the start. So after a full workup at the U to see if there was evidence of cancer anywhere else, full body ultrasound, blood and whatever else they did that day, and all coming back clear, we chose to let Tippy live what she had left without any more invasive treatment. She lived another 7 years, (full and naughty) to 12 with no recurrence of MCT. I had another MCT removed years ago from another Lab, clean margins, no other treatment, she went on to finish her MH, she's 11.5 now.

    I have done chemo on a dog with lymphoma, the dog tolerated chemo just fine, though it didn't buy us much time in the end, she felt good while she was in remission.

    You'll have to decide how much you want to put your older guy through, after talking over all options with your vets. There really isn't any right or wrong answer, just different anecdotal experiences. It's hard, both to make any decisions and not second-guess yourself as well as to hear the dreaded C word, I just try to focus on what would be best for that dog, overall, and their quality of life. Hope your boy heals well and feels better.
    Kim Pfister, Rainmaker Labs

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