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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Chemotherapy after amputation?
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Member Since:
20 March 2020
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20 March 2020 - 9:56 pm
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Hey everyone, I've lurked this forum for the last few months, and I need some advice, words, anything. I'm kind of at a loss.

My 6 year old yorkie Juju was diagnosed with a level 2 (0.0 mitotic index) mast cell tumor on her front foot.The tumor was on the pad and was located in such a way that surgery wasn't an option because the wound wouldn't be able to be closed. We were faced with either radiation and chemo or amputating the leg and taking the lymph nodes in the leg's shoulder. We opted for the amputation after tests showed that the cancer had not spread to any other organs.

Juju has been recovering great. The light is back in her eyes and she's hopping around, playing, her personality has returned and the wounds are healing great. We go for a follow up and find out that there's evidence of metastasis in the removed lymph nodes. Now the vet wants to do chemo, 4-8 IV sessions with a year long run of Palladia. 

My question is this. It was explained to me that the idea is that because there's evidence of metastasis in the amputated nodes, there could be cancer floating around her body and the chemo would help basically mop it up. My mentality is that if we completely removed the leg and shoulder and took the nodes that had the cancer, and the rest of her body had already been tested and was cancer free, shouldn't the amputation have eliminated that risk? I also don't want to put her through more pain for something that might only extend her life for a year. Do you guys have any experiences with anything similar? What did you opt to do and what were the results? Would not doing chemo basically be a death sentence?

Livermore, CA

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18 October 2009
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20 March 2020 - 11:50 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

Your story sounds very much like mine!  Maggie lost a rear leg to mast cell cancer and I thought it would be curative- tests before surgery showed no metastasis.  And after the amp the lymph node removed with the leg came back full of cancerous mast cells.

Here is what I learned back then- the tests to determine if there was cancerous mast cells were based on needle aspirates of the lymph nodes.  The needle hits only a small part of the node and pulls out a tiny sample.  There could be cancerous mast cells in the node and the needle aspirate might miss it... which is what happened to Maggie.  Also- many cancers met though the lymph system and that is particularly true in the case of mast cell so presence in the removed lymph node can indicate it is circulating in the lymph system.

In my Pug's case I was told that her prognosis WITH chemo was 6 to 9 months- without maybe a few months.  After amp and chemo Maggie lived almost 4 years and did not pass from mast cell cancer. She really beat the odds which doesn't always happen- but sometimes...

Now that being said the MI of 2 is good!  I don't know the MI of the tumor that cost Mag her leg (I didn't know to ask about it then) but it was a high grade 2 and it was her second MCT, although the first one was on her torso.  Maggie also had recurring tumors after her amp.

Chemo is a personal decision- you need to decide what is best for you and Juju.  Maggie's little sis Tani also developed mast cell cancer although they were all on her torso.  We did surgical removal on the first ones and that bought us some time.  A few years later they came back and kept coming. I was lucky that they stayed small and didn't rupture.  Chemo was recommended for her including palladia but I declined because she had a lot of other health issues and I didn't want to complicate things with chemo.  I went a holistic route with Tani and she lived to almost 15 and did not pass from mast cell cancer.

You can read about Maggie's amputation and chemo- the link is in my signature below.  I can't comment on palladia- it wasn't available when Maggie did her chemo, and I didn't use it with Tani.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010


              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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21 March 2020 - 3:25 pm
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Hi Juju and family, welcome the club nopawdy wants to join. But wow, I'm so happy that she is recovering nicely! That's wonderful! She's quite the role model isn't she?

Everyone wonders about the big chemo decision. And the truth is, there is no right or wrong choice. Yes, statistically it gives animals a better chance at longevity for many cancers. And most pets don't have major side effects other than sometimes a bit of nausea and lack of appetite. With pets, it's all about ensuring quality of life instead of blasting them with chemo the way we do with humans.

So yes, chemo increases the longevity odds. But we have seen it go either way: some will out live the prognosis with chemo, some will not. It's a gamble but if she's good at the vet and doesn't mind being there for a few hours, and you have the funds, it could give her an extra shot at no cancer recurrence. 

Is your vet a board-certified oncologist? If not, getting a second opinion could help you decide. Also, this blog post, Questions to Ask Your Veterinary Oncologist, might have some things in it that you forgot to ask your vet. 

We opted out of chemo when our Jerry lost his leg. It wasn't the right choice for us then. But if we had to go through cancer again, I can't say for sure if we would or would not do it. Every situation is different.

Just know that whatever you decide, as long as it's made with love and Juju's quality of life as the #1 factor, you're on the best path forward.

Let us know how we can help!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
17 January 2020
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21 March 2020 - 8:26 pm
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Hi @juju2020

We are about 5 weeks post amp and our 10yr old rottweiller is doing well. Our dog has osteosarcoma and had front amp surgery on left leg. Post surgery we were told the cancer did not show any signs of spreading. We had a rough time after surgery due to the cocktail of meds he was on. He had his first consultation with the oncologist a week ago and we were told survival rate with osteosarcoma/amputation and no chemo is about 2 months if there was metastasis in the lungs. 
We did not have a hesitation on proceeding with chemo because we figure it was worth a shot to see how he did. We did the chemo the same day as the consult and so far so good. I read that usually days 4-5 are when you may see a reaction and we have not seen any negative affects. 

Best of luck to you in your journey! ❤️

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