Experience of radiotherapy in dogs

(13 Posts)
applegate79 Sat 27-Jun-20 20:16:29

Our lovely 6 year old spaniel has a lump removed from his leg last week, when under anaesthetic the vet noticed a lump in his mouth. It’s on the roof of his mouth and is the size of a plum stone. The lump from his leg and a needle biopsy from the lump in his mouth were sent.
Results are back and the leg is nothing significant and completely unrelated to the mouth. The mouth is a probable osteosarcoma. He has had the odd slightly blood stained mucous from his nose over the past couple of weeks but no other symptoms.
The options given are to either accept that it’s an area that surgery is not an option and let nature take its course, obviously putting him to sleep when he was showing discomfort, or go fir a CT scan in a specialist centre and if it hasn’t spread, to take and examine a section of it with a view to radiotherapy to prolong his life.
Does anyone have an experience of tumours such as this on the hard palate/nasal cavity?
I’m swinging back and forth trying to decide what is in just best interests. Do we put him through further GAs, examinations and possible radiotherapy which may not work but equally may give him a few more years? He is an anxious dog and doesn’t like the vet which adds to my indecisiveness, or do we let him have a lovely summer and accept that it’s in his best interests not to do anything. If he was older I think I’d definitely not intervene but I keep wondering should we try as we may buy him years more? It feels an impossible decision and I’m so trying to take my emotions out of it and do what’s best for him.

OP’s posts: |
somm Sat 27-Jun-20 21:50:08

I feel so much for you Applegate. I don't know anything about osteosarcoma, but i assume it's a type of bone cancer? You're also saying surgery probably isn't an option.

"Do we put him through further GAs, examinations and possible radiotherapy which may not work but equally may give him a few more years?" In the end that's got to be down to you, but you mention your boy's anxiety and dislike of being at vets. I think you know what's probably going to be right for him. Our dog was diagnosed with lymphoma after a couple of years of problems. We were told he could have chemotherapy and maybe have another couple of years, or without it he would likely have two to three weeks of normal life and then go downhill very quickly over the course of a few days. Also, the chemotherapy could have worked only in the very short term.

We opted for the three weeks of normal life, because he was so scared of the vets'. We had the vet come to put him to sleep on our couch after a couple of days of knowing that was it. It was very peaceful. I would have given anything to have him for another year or more, but without the guarantee it would be right for him we chose to let him go in his own time. Well over a year later I'm not over it, but I do believe we did the right thing for him. All the best, and thoughts with you.

applegate79 Sat 27-Jun-20 22:27:01

Thank you Somm, I’m so sorry to hear about your dog, it’s such an incredibly difficult and sad decision and I feel for you having been in this situation too. I’m leaning towards letting him go and then he looks up or dashes to get a ball and I feel impossibly guilty for taking away the only chance he might have, although I’m so aware that his anxiety doesn’t lend itself to that being the best decision for him. 😕

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Scattyhattie Sat 27-Jun-20 23:15:37

You could book consult with specialist to gain more information before making a decision on treating or palliative care as they're in best position to advise.

My friend saw an oncologist with her dog who'd been diagnosed with lymphoma by own vet after biopsy, the oncologist didn't feel need to do further investigation under GA as going by experience it was late stage so was able to give realistic advise about outcome of chemo or steroid treatment and although wasn't outcome friend wanted to hear felt happier they'd made best decision. I think consult was about £150-200 but costs can vary greatly with referral practices even in same area of country.

CMOTDibbler Sun 28-Jun-20 10:16:22

I haven't had a dog go through radiotherapy, but I have been around them having it through my work. For your dog, I think the biggest stumbling block would be that they stay in on a weekly (at least) basis during treatment as normally people aren't close enough to bring them in everyday and they keep a cannula in because of the daily anaesthesia. The vet nurses (at the centre I've been involved with anyway) are lovely, the dogs are cuddled and pampered while in - but at the end of the day it is several weeks at the vets for the dog.
There are now only 5 centres in the UK who offer this, and maybe the way to go is to have a consult with a vet oncologist and see what they think, then you'll know whether its even an option

applegate79 Sun 28-Jun-20 10:55:17

I didn’t realise there were so few centres offering it, we are lucky that we have a specialist centre where he would be referred 40 min away, although I’m guessing he might have to stay anyway? He’d hate that I think no matter how lovely the staff were.

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Veterinari Sun 28-Jun-20 17:02:37


Radiotherapy usually requires an anaesthetic every day for 5 days whilst the radiation is administered. Most radiotherapy centres are experienced at minimising side effects but it can be very stressful.
Is he insured? It is incredibly expensive.

You can have a consultation to consider options but if you aren't sure, be clear on this - sometime referral centres can assume that because you're being referred you definitely want treatment


BiteyShark Sun 28-Jun-20 17:22:38

I always think in cases like this there isn't a right or wrong answer.

I have a dog that has had numerous admissions and vet investigations when young and it really affected him emotionally and behaviourally. It was the right thing at the time and I don't regret it but I also know that now he is older there are circumstances that I would decide to not treat when a lot of owners perhaps would simply because I know it would destroy him emotionally.

applegate79 Mon 29-Jun-20 13:14:42

Thank you, I feel it’s an impossible situation with no right answer but think we are coming to conclusion that the treatment, with no guarantees it will give him a decent amount of time and could ruin his last weeks or months if he’s miserable, is not in his best interests. Feeling devastated but going to try to take him to his favourite places and give him massses of love for the time he has left 😕

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BiteyShark Mon 29-Jun-20 15:59:35

Enjoy this time with him.

thanksfor you both.

somm Mon 29-Jun-20 20:39:33

Really feeling for you Applegate. You need to go with your gut instinct, but what you're thinking is how we felt and I can tell you, 15 months down the line, bad as I still feel I don't regret going with the option I think you're looking at.

applegate79 Wed 01-Jul-20 13:18:13

Thanks all, I really do appreciate hearing the advice and experiences, they’ve really helped. Although we’re all feeling desperately sad, I feel better for having made a decision. We’ll never know if we’d have bought him a few more years but I just can’t bear the thought of putting him through it, increasing his anxiety and fear and then him only surviving a short time anyway. I’m really worried we won’t know when the time is right but I’m hoping it’ll be clear from his behaviour, not having any kind of time frame is I guess the norm, but really hard. He’s currently rolling around on the floor with a squeaky toy, completely oblivious and as long as he’s doing that I’m reassured that he’s happy and comfortable for the moment.

OP’s posts: |
somm Wed 01-Jul-20 18:30:51

My heart's aching for you. We were given a timeline when our little boy (although he was actually nine) was diagnosed with lymphoma, which was two to three weeks of normal for him, and then a rapid (within days) move to the end stage. It happened as our veterinary consultant had advised. This did help, as we took him everywhere with us for two-and-a-half weeks; all was the normal for the three of us. On the last couple of days he wasn't eating, didn't really move, and then when he stopped drinking we knew that was it. We had our vet come to us, so he was in his own home. It's horrible when your dog is seeming perfectly fine but you know he isn't. But knowledge is power, however awful it is for us.

It must be so difficult not having some kind of timeframe, but you know your boy and I think you'll know when the time has come. In the meantime it's lovely that he's playing with his squeaky toy. It's horrible for you that you're not oblivious to what's going to happen, but at the moment he's in a good place.

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