The options you have are doing nothing, treating the cancer, which can get expensive and there are no guarantee's and you may have to opt for amputation in the long run if it doesn't work or amputation which most dogs especially small breeds do very well with 3 legs. They tend to recover very quickly from the surgery and are running around soon like they still have all 4 legs. As long as your dog doesn't have any knee or severe hip problems, he will do fine. I have seen many dogs come thru the surgery and live long lives after. Some of the cons are, depending on the cancer, it coming back in another area, post surgically, the amputation site becoming infected but this can be prevented with good vet followup care. Here is some other info and pro's and cons of amputation and some treatments if it happens to be Osteosarcoma which is one of the more common bone cancers:
Amputation of the Limb: Removal of the affected limb resolves the pain in 100% of cases. Unfortunately, many people are reluctant to have this procedure performed due to misconceptions.
- While losing a leg is very handicapping to a human (who only has two legs total), losing one leg out of four does not restrict a dog's activity level. Running and playing are not inhibited by amputation (after the surgical recovery period is over).
- While losing a limb is disfiguring to a human and has social ramifications, dogs really are not so self-conscious about their image. The dog will not feel disfigured by the surgery; it is his or her owner that will need to adjust to the new appearance of the dog.
- Median survival time for dogs who do not receive chemotherapy for osteosarcoma is 4 to 5 months from the time of diagnosis regardless of whether or not they have amputation. Do you want your dog's last 4 to 5 months to be painful or comfortable?
Limb-sparing Surgery: Limb-sparing techniques developed for humans have been adapted for dogs. To spare the limb (and thus avoid amputation), the tumorous bone is removed and either replaced by a bone graft from a bone bank or the remaining bone can be re-grown via a new technique called bone transport osteogenesis. The joint nearest the tumor is fused (i.e., fixed in one position and cannot be flexed or extended.)
- Limb sparing cannot be done if more than 50% of the bone is involved by tumor or if neighboring muscle is involved.
- Limb sparing does not work well for hind legs or tumors of the humerus (arm bone.)
- Limb sparing works best for tumors of the distal radius (forearm bone).
- Complications of limb sparing can include: Bone infection, implant failure, tumor recurrence, and fracture.
Radiotherapy for Pain Control: Radiation doses can be applied to the tumor in three doses (the first two doses 1 week apart, the second two doses 2 weeks apart.) Improved limb function is usually evident within the first 3 weeks and typically lasts 4 months. (Our local oncologists report a range of 0 to 19 months.) When pain returns, radiation can be re-administered for further pain relief if deemed appropriate based on the stage of the cancer at that time.
- When pain is relieved in the tumorous limb, there is an increase in activity which can in turn lead to a pathologic fracture of the bone.
- Radiotherapy does not produce a helpful response in about 1/3 of patients. (Remember, amputation controls pain in 100% of cases but if amputation is simply not an option, there is a 2 out of 3 chance that radiotherapy will control the pain.)
Drugs: Analgesic medications such as carprofen, etodolac, aspirin, butorphanol, and fentanyl patches are all available but, unfortunately, they are no match for the pain involved in what amounts to a slowly exploding bone. These medications may be palliative at some stage but generally do not provide meaningful pain relief long term.
How Do we Treat the Cancer?
Osteosarcoma is unfortunately a fast spreading tumor. By the time the tumor is found in the limb, it is considered to have already spread. Osteosarcoma spreads to the lung in a malignant process called metastasis. Prognosis is substantially worse if the tumor spread is actually visible on radiographs in the chest so if chemotherapy is being contemplated, it is important to have chest radiographs taken.
- Chemotherapy is the only meaningful way to alter the course of this cancer.
Cisplatin (given IV every 3 to 4 weeks for 3 treatments)
- The median survival time with this therapy is 400 days.
- Survival at one year: 30% to 60%
- Survival at 2 years: 7% to 21%
- Giving less than 3 doses does not increase survival time (i.e., if one can only afford one or two treatments, it is not worth the expense of therapy)
- Cisplatin can be toxic to the kidneys and should not be used in animals with pre-existing kidney disease.
Carboplatin (given by IV every 3 to 4 weeks for 4 treatments)
- Similar statistics to cisplatin but carboplatin is not toxic to the kidneys and can be used if the patient has pre-existing kidney disease.
- Carboplatin is substantially more expensive than cisplatin.
Doxorubicin (given IV every 2 weeks for 5 treatments)
- The median survival time is 365 days.
- 10% still alive at 2 years.
- Toxic to the heart. An ultrasound examination is needed prior to using this drug as it should not be given to patients with reduced heart contracting ability.
Doxorubicin and Cisplatin in Combination (both given IV together every 3 weeks for four treatments)
- 48% survival at 1 year
- 30% survival at 2 years
- 16% survival at 3 years.
Quoted from http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=1035&S=1&SourceID=42
Hope this answers your questions!
Good Luck with your decision Disclaimer: The above is provided for informational purposes only. As I am not a veterinarian -- the above should not be considered, or relied upon as, veterinary medical advice. I strongly encourage you to consult a Licensed Veterinarian regarding any serious animal medical matter.