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7.5 year old German Shepherd diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the shoulder. | Presentation and Diagnosis

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7.5 year old German Shepherd diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the shoulder.
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13 August 2016 - 8:23 am
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Please help.  Our beautiful girl became lame two weeks ago which got progressively worse. We took her to the vet who did an ex ray and now believes she has bone cancer.  She is clearly in pain and can't weight bear or settle.  She has been prescribed tramadol and metacam to control the pain.  We see the vet again on Monday to decide how to proceed.  We are so confused.  One vet says amputate and the other says don't.  They want to do a biopsie to confirm diagnosis and more ex rays to see if the disease has spread.  She is a large dog with arthritis in her joints and spine.  She is still eating and just wants to be loved.  We have plenty of food and love but we don't know which way to turn to do what's right for her.  Any advice/experiences will be great fully received.  Thank you from holly's mum and dad

Minneapolis, MN
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13 August 2016 - 11:25 am
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I am so sorry Holly may have bone cancer and is in pain.  Others will be along to say more on Osteo - my tripawd has a different cancer.  What you will hear from them is that a definitive Osteo diagnosis sometimes, maybe even often, only comes after amputation with the post op pathology.  Going to find you some forum threads on this topic.

It is very common to do additional x-rays of lung and sometimes spine to see if there is progression - the question is would you want to put your dog through amputation without knowing if there has been that spread.  Some opt to do so because you have the chance for your dog to have much, much less pain regardless of how long that is.

You will find, I think, that few here regret the decision to amputate - but how extensive pre-op diagnostics were varies.

You have found the right place for support and great "tribal knowledge".  

Best thoughts for your girl and for you at this tough time.

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His Daddy and I miss him terribly along with his canine sister, Mia, and two feline siblings, Lucia and Cliff.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

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13 August 2016 - 11:37 am
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Thank you for replying.  We are still in complete shock never expecting any such diagnosis.  We thought she had a sprain.  Clearly not now as she is seriously struggling.  Is excessive panting relevant? She has done that a while but as a long haired GSD we again thought she was cooling down but now it seems to be linked to her illness.  Could that indicate that the disease has spread to lungs?

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13 August 2016 - 12:58 pm
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Just lost a long response!!

I think pain is just as likely, probably more likely, the cause of the start of the panting than metastasis.  

How much Tramadol and Metacam - what are dosages and frequency?

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His Daddy and I miss him terribly along with his canine sister, Mia, and two feline siblings, Lucia and Cliff.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

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13 August 2016 - 1:12 pm
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150mg of tramadol 3 x daily and it shows kg's on side of syringe and she has 35kg.  She weighs 35kg.  She was on 50mg of tramadol 3 x daily and she had a really bad night so took her back to vets this morning and they have agreed the increased dosage.  She can also have 3/4 of a 500g paracetamol 3 x daily.  We are logging her medication and since we revised it she is having a better time of it.  

The Rainbow Bridge

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13 August 2016 - 1:15 pm
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Holly I am in the Tripawds Chat right now if you want to talk. Response follows...

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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The Rainbow Bridge

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13 August 2016 - 1:20 pm
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Hi Holly & Family, welcome. I'm so sorry you found yourself here. It does sound like you have great vets who are looking out for her pain management, that's awesome.

Your post really grabbed me because our Tripawds Chief Fun Officer Jerry, a Shepherd mix, was diagnosed at about the same age, in the same location. We too were astounded that a strong, healthy mixed-breed dog could get cancer. I know what it feels like to have your world crash in like that, it really sucks.

BUT, now that you are here, let us help make it easier for all of you OK? We aren't vets but most of us have been in your shoes and paws.

My first thought: if they want to do a bone biopsy, keep in mind that is a painful procedure that isn't necessary before surgery if the leg is beyond saving. Most members here have said they would not do that procedure again and head straight into amputation if it was certain that the leg had to come off anyways. A firmer diagnosis can happen after amputation. So that's an important question to ask your vet: will the leg need to come off regardless of the diagnosis?

Take things one step at a time. Check out Jerry's Required Reading List, take a deep breath and know that you have a ton of people here ready to help OK?

I'll be in the Tripawds Chat for a bit, hope to see you there.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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13 August 2016 - 1:32 pm
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hollypie said
150mg of tramadol 3 x daily and it shows kg's on side of syringe and she has 35kg.  She weighs 35kg.  She was on 50mg of tramadol 3 x daily and she had a really bad night so took her back to vets this morning and they have agreed the increased dosage.  She can also have 3/4 of a 500g paracetamol 3 x daily.  We are logging her medication and since we revised it she is having a better time of it.    

I think that increase is going to make a difference in her comfort level and the panting.  And yes, just the other night, several of us were talking in the chat room, I think, about medicine logs and spreadsheets and pill minders!!  

Tripawds Chat - Jerry is there - I was going to pop in there, too.  You should join us!

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His Daddy and I miss him terribly along with his canine sister, Mia, and two feline siblings, Lucia and Cliff.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

Minneapolis, MN
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13 August 2016 - 1:38 pm
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Oh, and part of my lost post was echoing what Jerry said above.  

If bone is destroyed - the leg probably needs to come off whether it is Osteo or another cause.  Biopsies are painful and often inconclusive.  The chest / spine x-ray, personally, I would probably do.  Did do a chest x-ray before Pofi's surgery.  For peace of mind and just to know.

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His Daddy and I miss him terribly along with his canine sister, Mia, and two feline siblings, Lucia and Cliff.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

The Rainbow Bridge

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13 August 2016 - 2:05 pm
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Ditto on the chest x-ray, for sure.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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13 August 2016 - 2:20 pm
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My Otis fractured his leg, so we really didn't have much choice.  But 4 vets and a radiologist who saw his x-rays all said it looked like osteosarcoma.  The surgeon noted that even if it was not, the bone was so badly damaged that it could not be healed.  We were offered a biopsy, but he was in pain on heavy meds and there didn't seem to be much point.   Otis is a large dog, with mild arthritis in his hips.  My family vet wasn't sure that amputation was the best option and was more in favor of the limb sparing procedure. The surgeon, however (who unfortunately sees many more amputation scenarios), felt that Otis was a good candidate for amputation, even with the arthritis.  And so far, 6 months post-amp, Otis is doing great.  He cannot talk long walks, but can do pretty much everything else and he is absolutely happy!   Talk to a specialist and get your chest x-Ray.  And if Holly is a good candidate for amputation, don't be afraid of it.  Recovery is a tough 2 - 3 weeks, and harder for some than others, but once the staples come out (about day 10), the dogs really begin to show us what they can do.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

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13 August 2016 - 2:37 pm
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Hi Hollie and family heart

So sorry you are joining us, we all know what you are going through ...

Misdiagnosis is very, very common, my girl Eurydice is a 5 year old Great Dane weighing 150 pounds who was treated for the wrong condition for one month until the 5th vet got it right.

He said he thought it was cancer and I should get an X-ray as soon as possible.

We did and it was osteosarcoma.

My partner was adamant not to get her leg amputated because we weren't 100% sure.

But truth is X-rays are self explanatory when it is bone cancer and after I saw hers I was 100% sure.

I didn't want to have a biopsy done as it is very painful and often inconclusive and as osteosarcoma is very aggressive opted to have her amputation asap.

I don't regret it for one second, a couple of weeks later we had confirmation it was indeed osteosarcoma.

Chest X-rays or ideally a PET SC scan are really important to establish whether cancer has spread or not at the time of diagnosis.

In any case, I would say if your baby is avoiding to use the painful leg, it is time to remove it.

She is already adapting to life on 3 legs!

You will not believe how well they adapt to their new normal and how resilient our lovely furry babies are.

We are keeping you in our hearts, please do not hesitate to ask any questions, we are all here for you and your baby heart

Virginia
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13 August 2016 - 3:25 pm
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Sorry that you have to be here, but as you can see, under the circumstances there is no better place to be for support, understanding and information. From this point forward you are not alone and we are all right here by your side, okay?

I know right now this is so scary and so full of uncertainty. however, as you get closer to a plan of action you will start to feel some relief as you move forward.

I am certainly no vet and not giving that advice. I can only relay from my own personal experience, as well as what I've seen here on this invaluable site. It does appear that biopsies are often inconclusive, very painful, and, .kst who have do e them regretted it for thkse two reasons. Generally, and almost always, a trains specialist is able to determine from the x-rays if it is bone cancer or not. If you are uncertain from the feedback you have gotten, make sure you have one or two or even more trained radiologist to look at the x-rays.

The other test that is non negotiable, is to have x-rays of the chest to ensure they are clear. Even if not, it does not necessarily eliminate amputation as an option.

Generally arthritis is not a reason to not pursue amputation. Of course, there are always exceptions. if Holly is not showing any real bad symptoms due to arthritis I imagine most orthopedic surgeons will advise to proceed. Make no mistake about it, this is major surgery and the surgery itself has risk, just like with any surgery. Unfortunately none of us have crystal ball to tell us how our pets will do during or after surgery. All of us proceed however, because the pain must be taken away the best way possible. Amputation is that answer.

Again, not a vet, but if the trained professionals that you trust all say that this looks like bone cancer then it most likely is. And yes, to get X-ray of the lungs is necessary. Because of her arthritis maybe X-rays of this spine would be recommended too. Unless there is a lot of uncertainty and disagreement among the vet about what the x-rays are showing, you may want to skip the biopsy.

I know all this is so confusing and frustrating and it's hard to tell which way to go. The main purpose of the amputation is to give our pets as much quality time as possible free of pain. Recovery is no picnic for a couple of weeks but after that, it will be so spectacular to see how well your Holly does on three legs living life to the fullest!

Do yiur research, check out all the invaluable information here on the site and let us know how we can help. Remember, Holly doesn't care about any ole diagnosis or statistics! All she cares about is being loved and spoiled by you...a d lots of extra treats!!

Love a d hugs!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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13 August 2016 - 6:46 pm
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Hi ~

Our Murphy ended up with a different type of bone cancer.  We also were devastated with the diagnosis - he had been limping & we also thought he had a sprain, maybe even a small fracture, but never even thought about cancer.  We did do a biopsy, because we were told that it could possibly be a fungal or bacterial infection, and we grasped at that straw of hope.  The biopsy came back inconclusive - which I know now often is the case.  The repeat x-rays showed that the tumor was growing & eating away at the bone, so we proceeded with amputation.  They then biopsied the bone again AFTER it was removed to figure out the type of cancer he had. 

Knowing what I know now, if we ever had to face this decision again, I would never biopsy - I would proceed straight to amputation.  All it really did was prolong Murphy's pain.  It was a painful procedure that gave us no answers and he was in pain for another 6 weeks before surgery. 

If the biopsy does not change the course of treatment, then I would say don't put her through it.

Many dogs with arthritis have had amputations and done fine.  She may need to stay on anti-inflammatory medications.  Why does the other vet say not to amputate?  Is it a legitimate reason?  Or is he just unsure of how tripawds do?  There are plenty of examples of large dogs, dogs with arthritis, front leg, rear legs, you name it - there's probably somebody on here!

Donna

Donna, Glenn & Murphy  http://murphyh......pawds.com/

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old.  He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  

Donna.png

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14 August 2016 - 2:12 am
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Thank you all for your advice (sorry for late reply we are in the UK). Holly had a much better night last night. She was up three times and on each time I medicated her and she went straight back off to sleep. After reading these posts we now feel we are in a position to ask questions about how to proceed. Holly's leg now just seems a nuisance to her and it's heartbreaking watching her struggle to do the simple things like have a wee. We see our regular vet tomorrow who has looked after Holly since she was a puppy and we trust his judgement. I really don't want her going under a general anaesthetic to have a biopsie and then watch her struggle another few days/weeks or however long it takes to get the results. It seems to me from reading posts that they are often inconclusive.
She is so bright in herself and when you look at her sat down you would have no idea that she has anything wrong with her. She still eats very well and is still assisting me with my tea. I know she will recover well as she loves life and wants to be out and about.
Lets see what tomorrow brings and fingers crossed for a good outcome. Maybe then we can grow up abit and stop crying everytime we look at her.
Thanks again - holly's mum and dad - Steve and Di

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