Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Could Be Better, Could Be Worse

Today we heard some good news and some not so good news from Hope's surgeon in KC. The good news is that the margins of Hope's tumor were clear, so the doctor is relatively sure that the tumor was completely excised. However, because of the inconvenient placement of the tumor, those margins were not nearly as big as desired for this type of cancer. Because mast cell tumors tend to form "roots" or "fingers" into the surrounding tissue, surgeons generally try to get a 2-3 centimeter margin around the main part of the growth. Dr. Layton was able to get only .5 centimeters around some edges and up to 1.5 centimeters around other edges of Hope's mass. This is obviously not ideal, but it's certainly better than if they'd found cancerous cells along those margins, so we're very thankful for the blessing of Dr. Layton's excellent surgical skills!

The other bummer news is that Hope's latest tumor was graded higher than her low-grade tumor last year--this one was a grade 2 as opposed to a grade 1, with grade 3 being the most aggressive type of tumor. Because this malignancy is behaving more aggressively than last year's, it means a higher potential for invasion into other organs and a higher chance of recurrence. Dr. Layton spoke with the oncologist at VSEC who treated Hope last year, and they agreed that it's very likely that Hope will develop another mast cell tumor sometime in the future.

The oncologist suggested that another round of chemotherapy for Hope would be an option to try and kill off any wayward or free floating cancer cells that might be out there in her body, but she also said that there's no evidence that chemo does anything to prevent additional mast cell tumors in dogs. Since last year's chemo didn't have an overall shrinking effect on Hope's tumor, it doesn't really seem logical to try that route again. That sort of leaves us in the position of just watching and waiting--watching Hope's body very closely for signs of any lesions while waiting for the next one to pop up.

Instead of doing nothing but worry while we watch and wait, we've decided to consult with a holistic vet here in Lawrence to see if there's any more preventative type remedies that she might try. Before Hope's surgery last year, when the oncologist had been so negative about the possibility of surgery being successful, I had contacted this vet (who happens to be the same woman who did Fresco's neurological assessment while he was at the shelter) to find out if she had any experience in treating mast cell tumors. She said she had some treatments which had been effective for other patients and recommended that I call her back if the surgery didn't work. Since the surgery resolved that particular tumor, I didn't call, but now we're hopeful that she'll have some supplements or something that will help keep Hope's tumors in check. Since mast cells are a normal component of a dog's immune system are associated with allergic reactions, we're thinking that some remedy to help keep her allergies under control will also help keep her tumors under control. At least that's what we're praying for!

Thanks to everyone who's been checking in and saying prayers for our sweet girl during the last week. We're thankful that some of our prayers have been answered and are hoping for many more wonderful years with our pretty puppy!


amber said...

That is good news overall! I think consulting with the other vet is a great idea. You just never can dismiss any possible treatment, especially something that couldn't hurt as a preventative. Glad to hear the update!

Erin said...

I'm glad to hear that she was able to remove that tumor. I'll keep praying for Hope! Let me know if you find anything that helps with her allergies. Maybe Simon could try something!