3rd July 2013, 04:36 AM
Leo diagnosed with Cancer near Anal Gland - Advice Needed Please
Our precious 7-Year-Old Leo was diagnosed with a tumor near his anal gland (Anal Sac Adenocarcinoma, I think). Obviously, we are beyond sad.
We had it removed and the tests came back positive for cancer. While we caught it fairly early, the cancer cells went right to the edge of the tumor which means the vet probably didn't get them all. Leo's rear lymph nodes were also a bit enlarged, so yesterday (2 weeks after first surgery) we had those removed. They are being tested now for cancer. Without radiation, the oncologist says Leo can survive another 6-8 months. Radiation can probably buy him an additional 2-3 years. The problem is this: Our vet isn't sure that Leo is emotionally strong enough to handle the radiation treatments (approximately 20 treatments over 4 weeks, each with sedation, the last 2 weeks are supposedly extremely uncomfortable for the dog (imagine a severe sunburn in the anus region, he says). He says Leo is "such a sensitive little guy, it might be best not to put him through that."
We love Leo so much. We hate to lose him without doing everything we can, but we would never want to put him through something he can't handle. Leo has already gone pretty much deaf. His heart has a slight murmur, but not at all bad yet.
I guess I'm looking for any advice that any fellow Cavalier lovers have. You know the special bond we have with these wonderful companions.
Also, we have Milo, a 6 year old Cav who is healthy and pretty attached to Leo (Leo is more dominant) and I'd appreciate any advice you could give for caring for Milo emotionally.
Thank you very much,
Last edited by Leo's Pal; 3rd July 2013 at 04:57 AM.
3rd July 2013, 01:14 PM
Steve, unfortunately for our breed, it is at a relatively higher risk for anal sac gland carcinoma than nearly every other breed. Only the English Cocker reportedly is at a greater risk, as a breed.
If you do not think that Leo can handle the radiation, there are alternative treatments. Our holistic vet, Dr. Joe Demers, has written a veterinary journal article about his treatment protocols, which is linked here: http://www.cavalierhealth.org/images...hvma_jan05.pdf He wrote that in 2004, and since then he has added additional treatments.
Dr. Demers' bio is here: http://floridaholisticvet.com/veterinarians.htm
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3rd July 2013, 01:40 PM
First let me say I'm so sorry. I think its great your vet is being honest with you about the down side of radiation treatment but I'm disappointed with his own decision to say Leo is not "emotionally strong enough" or mainly discourage you from even trying.I wouldn't even be upset if your vet said "I wouldn't put my own dog through it". Yes, cavaliers are sensitive, and can have you think they are big babies but I do not think they are "emotionally" weak. The real truth of the matter is NO ONE knows exactly what Leo can handle.
Not that I think I should be making this decision for you but personally I would try the radiation if it become necessary. Their are dogs here with SM who have no "end date" to their pain and owners do everything possible to relieve their pain for as long as possible. If Leo honestly cannot handle treatments you will know. He will let you know. It takes a lot of courage but you can and will be able to relieve him at that time IF that time comes. I also think or hope you will be working with another vet (a specialists?) would will be more supportive during these treatments. Again just my opinion I could NEVER image not trying and having my dog ________ (I can't even type it- but you know) and wondering if I made the "right" choice by not trying first. Dogs are resilient (like people) you never know what you are capable of truly until its tested.
"If you don't own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life."
3rd July 2013, 04:15 PM
Dear Melissa --
Thank you for your response. I really appreciate it. Just to be clear, I do think our vet is very supportive. He is just offering an opinion based on his experiences with Leo and this particular form of cancer (and its sensitive and potentially painful location). We asked for his opinion and this is where he's leaning at the moment. For the record, we are also working with an oncologist so that we have more than one opinion.
3rd July 2013, 04:56 PM
I am so sorry you have been given this news about Leo. I'm sure that with the information from your vet and oncologist, you will think long and hard about what the best option for Leo is.
Our cavaliers do have a way of wrapping their paws around our hearts and it is heartbreaking to see them suffer. I have no medical advice for you, I just wanted you to know that I am sending Leo and your family good wishes. Let us know how he is getting on. He is so lucky to have such caring parents who want to do the best for him.
Joyce - Proudly owned & loved by
BellaMia (Aug. 30, 2012) My Beautiful Red Headed Baby Girl
Sydney (April 16, 2000~April 4, 2012) Always and Forever In My Heart
3rd July 2013, 05:14 PM
After having recently lost my young cavalier, in large part to the side effects of an aggressive treatment regimen, I think it is very wise that you are considering the full picture, Steve. Unfortunately, sometimes the treatments can be even worse than the disease. Quality, as well as quantity, of time are important to consider in making this kind of decision. I can say that it pains me terribly to know that the discomfort he experienced in his last couple of months related predominantly to what I did to try and save him. Although the treatment could have afforded him a decade of quality life had it worked, I watched the boy I loved so much suffer terribly at the hand of the treatments I had chosen. Emotionally, I know it was hard on my beautiful boy... but it also was (and continues to be) emotionally hard on me. No one wants to see their dog in pain, but it is even harder to stomach when you know that the medications/procedures you are putting him through directly are the cause. If I had known that he would have so adversely reacted to the treatment, I would have chosen palliative care only and enjoyed the precious (even if limited) time we had left together. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but I can say that this experience significantly changed the way that I will approach these kinds of decisions in the future.
You are doing all the right things: looking at the risks and the benefits, and weighing them for your Leo and family. It sounds like you have a strong vet team to rely on as well. Whichever you decide, take comfort in knowing you are trying to do the best for your little guy. These decisions are never easy. And, take time to enjoy and cherish the good days and moments you have together.
Last edited by cavalover; 3rd July 2013 at 05:20 PM.
Mommy to Butters (06/18/2011-4/20/2013) and Sawyer (6/08/2013)
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3rd July 2013, 07:26 PM
I'm so sorry to hear about Leo. Please know you and Leo are in our prayers.
I think your vet is strong, honest and is doing his best to be supportive. You know Leo best, and whatever path you decide to take with him is the right one.
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4th July 2013, 04:15 PM
I'm so sorry that Leo and you are going thru this. I think your vet is being kind and realistic. Some would push for treatment$ and paint that ro$y picture, often at great strain to the owner's finances. Then there are the two years of side effects. Some dogs are emotionally fragile. Your vet knows your dog, as do you. I agree with Joah's comment above. Please give Leo a big hug from Sophie and me.
4th July 2013, 07:41 PM
I'm so sorry about the news, it must be a dreadful time for you. I don't have any experience of dogs having treatment for cancer but would imagine the sideffects have the same impact on a dog as they would a human and that i Do know about, and that can be tough enough. The thought of a cavalier going through the trauma is a difficult one. I agree with the earlier points that its quality of life against the extra time. It's your decision and you'll know if your little one is strong enough and you'll make the right decision. Take care and take time to explore all options. Much love to you and Leo x
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12th July 2013, 10:13 AM