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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 19582
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My dog is 12 years old and has just been diagnosed with what

Customer Question

My dog is 12 years old and has just been diagnosed with what I think is Adenocarcinoma, the vet has said it is very aggressive and they would not be prepared to do anything, which I understand and would agree with as I don't think he would tolerate an operation. What I do need to know is how long are we looking at before we have to make that final decision, I am a great believer in not letting an animal suffer just so I can keep him for my own benefit. Also we are going on holiday in three weeks and a friend is going to be house sitting and I really need to know that they aren't going to have to make the decision whilst we are away.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Where is the adenocarcinoma located?

What signs is it causing for your lad at the moment?

Has your vet dispensed any treatment for discomfort or to keep him comfortable?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Good morning

It is in is back passage and he struggles to poo, he constantly needs to go and groans. His stools are much slimmer than the should be and there is sometimes blood.

The vet has given us antibiotics for now and we can take him back for a check up at any time.

Our vet has said it could be as long as 6 months as the passage isn't totally blocked yet.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

Thank you,

Now as I am sure you can appreciate, the prognosis for any cancer type will be based on how aggressive the tumor is and where it is located. Unfortunately, your lad has a less then ideally placed adenocarcinoma and everything you have described (the straining, the feeling that he has to go because of the mass's presence in his colon, the compressed stool that is having to slide past mass, the blood, and groaning) suggests that it is already causing him a degree of struggle.

In regards ***** ***** we cannot truly know how fast an individual cancer in an individual is going to grow (not even for people). Generally speaking, the reports on this type of mass without any treatment give a prognosis from anywhere between 6-15 months. That said, if it is already large enough to induce the clinical signs you have reported, we are likely already well into that time frame.

Therefore, with all of this in mind, as long as his struggles doesn't appear to be rapidly progressing, it is likely safe that you will be able to go on holiday. That said, if he is struggling as much as you have described, it may be worth ringing his vet to discuss the use of stool softeners or GI lubricants (ie Lactulose, liquid paraffin, etc) to ease his passage of stool. That could just take some of the strain off of him when he is passing his motions. Furthermore, it would be worth discussing the use of steroids or at least a dog safe anti-inflammatory (ie Metacam, Rimadyl, etc). The reason is because both will reduce swelling and inflammation associated with the mass. That could reduce its size to a degree and again help him with his motions and delay it reaching a critical size. As well, the anti-inflamatories could soothe that inflamed GI and reduce the straining and frequency of the blood you have seen. Finally, steroids are known to have some cytotoxic effects and can be useful against some cancers. So, these would be palliative measures to consider for keeping him comfortable and giving him as much good quality time as we can.

Finally, I do want to direct you to a pain scale (HERE). It is used for assessing discomfort post surgery but the concept works for any condition. It is just a means for you to appreciate his non-verbal clues about how uncomfortable he may be with this. This will just help you to keep an eye out for any signs that he may be starting to suffer and that it is time.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.

Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 19582
Experience: General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
Dr. B. and 2 other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your reply, I do keep a close eye on him and will continue to do so, I just don't want him to suffer, he has never caused us any grief in his 12 years so as long as I can make him comfortable for his last few months I will feel I have done the best I can for him.

Thank you again

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
You are very welcome,

He does sound to be in very good hands with you.Smile I completely agree that the key to situations like this is always to keep our wee ones comfortable and free of any suffering.
Please take care,
Dr. B.

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