Internal Dog Tumor Deemed "Inconclusive"
(Central Coast, California)
My sister took care of my dog Lucy about a month ago after 3 weeks of not seeing her. She noticed that Lucy had begun to put on a little weight, but I assumed it was (like the rest of us) because of aging. When my sister saw her again, she commented on the suddenness of weight gain in her abdomen area, almost appearing bloated. So, I took her to the vet a week and a half ago.
The vet took an x-ray (see photo above). He was able to see that she had grown a tumor, and a large one at that. He wasn't able to tell what type of tumor though because of where it was positioned. He then did a sonogram type procedure, and again, could not get a clear picture to determine what type of tumor he thought this was so we could make a decision as to what to do. He had me bring her back the next day. He drew blood, looked at it himself, and sent it to the lab. Both he and the lab said it was still inconclusive.
He has shared with me the 4 possibilities he thinks it is. It could be a malignant or benign tumor attached to her spleen. Both cases he says he could remove the tumor and the spleen as well. He also said it could be a liver tumor, either malignant or benign. If that's the case, he'd really have to see how/where it was attached and if there were more spread of the cells in her body to determine what to do.
So, he's said I should do "exploratory surgery" to determine what it is and what to do. However, if he opens her up and sees she has cancer, should I leave her asleep? And, I've read some things online that say both of these situations may not extend her life much at all, MAYBE up to a year, but more likely a few months.
I asked him what would happen if I let it be, and also if he thought she could even handle such a surgery because of her age. He said her age and health, she's likely be fine from the surgery itself. If I let it be, she's not suffering now, and it would eventually get a small rupture, causing her to internally bleed. She would likely get weak, faint or fall asleep, and pass away.
Lucy is a small, 18 pound schnauzer mix (with what I don't know). I adopted her about 8 years ago. At the time, the humane society I adopted her from assumed she was about 5, however my vet thought more like 4, so her exact age is unknown. I'm guessing she's between 11 - 12 years old.
She's been in good health overall. She tore her ACL shortly after I adopted her, and she's recovered beautifully from that surgery, gaining full use of her hind leg again. She still doesn't like to put weight on it when peeing though! She was attacked by a big dog a few years after that, and again, after stitches, antibiotics, etc., she bounced right back.
Over the last year, I've begun to notice that she's indeed aging. Her eyes are a bit cloudy, she's a little clumsier, and she seems a bit more tired. But still, overall, her health has been good.
Ok, that's the background! Oh...and she has other small fatty tissue tumors in various places on her body as well, which he seems to think are not related. She has 2 that are external (look like warts) and many internal that feel like little skin lumps.
Sooooo, what should I do? I'm very confused about what to do given:
1. Her age.
2. All the questions about what it actually is.
3. The possibility that i could actually be shortening her life span instead of extending it.
4. (I hate to say this, but it's a small part of my thinking process.) The cost - up to $2000, and I already spent $550 for inconclusive information.
I feel like I need more input before I can decide comfortably about what to do. I hate to do such an invasive surgery given her age and all the other factors. Right now, other than being bloated and a bit more tired, she's perky, eating, walking, enjoying herself.
Please help give me direction or maybe more advice about what this is.
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