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Dr. Bruce
Dr. Bruce, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 19118
Experience:  15 years of experience as a small animal veterinarian
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My 12 year old golden retriever has a mass behind his left

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My 12 year old golden retriever has a mass behind his left ear that was small and was thought to be a fatty deposit.in the past month it started to grew quickly. The fluid cytology came back with probable sarcoma. He also has a distended abdomen. He is going in tomorrow for x-rays and to draw some fluid out. His blood work was within normal limits but his wbc's were on the low end of normal.
His surgeon went over what he may find when he draws off some fluid for testing. He mentioned the different colors of the fluid and what may cause it.
I would like to know what the different colors could indicate.
Hi,

Welcome. I'm Dr. Bruce and I've been a small animal veterinarian for over 12 years. I'm sorry to hear about Clyde's situation. Are they going to draw fluid out of his abdomen? Do they feel that he has ascites?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes. They are going to do the x rays and then draw some fluid.


The surgeon feels that there is a lot of fluid

Ok. Fluid in the abdomen is called ascites. It can be there for numerous reasons. It could be blood - which would be red. It could be cloudy with debris in it which can be white to tan and this could indicate an infection in the abdomen. But in most cases the fluid is clear and it could be due to liver issues, cancer, protein issues, or heart issues. More information comes from acutally being able to see the fluid and looking at some of it under a microscope for a cytology. In a situation like this, the x-rays are good to start with information. But a step up from this is an abdominal ultrasound to see what that shows.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

He is going to check the fluid then depending on what he sees he may do the ultrasound then maybe after that, exploratory surgery.


He is also worried because the cytology from the ear (possible sarcoma) was very vague and he hopes to/wants to remove that and have it biopsied.


He is also looking for possible metastases.


He also mentioned a worse case scenario of a type of cancer that could cause this fluid. What type of cancer would that be?


Also, how bad is radiation for canines especially for a 12 year old?

There are many types of cancer that can cause fluid in the abdomen. There just isn't one type to cause this and that being the worst case. I've seen fluid in the abdomen due to liver cancer, renal cancer, pancreatic cancer, intestinal cacer, and lymphoma to name a few. The ultrasound will hopefully be a good information gathering step to show if there is cancer and how aggressive it is. Could all this be from the possible sarcoma by the ear being a metastasis from it or from the other way around? Radiation is one of the forms of cancer therapy. It is utilized along with surgery and chemotherapy to obtain the best remission / control of a cancer. Radiation isn't "bad" for young or old dogs. It is something that is an option for certain tumors depending on the cell line and the location. It is something that isn't typically easy to do as it usually requires multiple sessions where the animal has to be anesthetized to perform it.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Do his symptoms seem to point in any direction?


I think that he has had fluid developing for at least 5 or 6 months. He did have a fatty deposit by his ribs which his regular doctors have been watching. But this distention seemed different to me. They checked it and said it was him being over weight.


The distention seemed to get worse just before the mass increased in size. Is there a correlation to them both increasing in size at about the same time? Could this indicate that the cancer started in the abdomen and then metastasized to behind the ear?

I'm sorry I went off line late last night and didn't get back to your question till now. You had opted me out and this locked me out of the question. I'm hoping that the visit with the surgeon went as good as it could here today. What did they find with the x-rays and drawing off of the fluid?

Fluid in the abdomen can accumulate slowly, but for the most part, it is quicker in its clinical appearance than 5 to 6 months. It is something that usually is days to weeks in its accumulation in most cases. The fatty deposit by the ribs that has been being watched doesn't seem that suspicious for everything that is going on.

Your question about the cancer starting in the abdomen and then metastasizing is a good question. That is possible. The other possibility is that the cancer behind the ear is the pirmary lesion and it metastasized.

Please let me know what they found today with Clyde. I'm looking forward to hearing back.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Good news then bad news.


He lost 4 pounds between Friday and Tuesday and his abdomen felt better. They said he didn't look like the same dog. They did an x-ray and it showed a large mass and fluid in his abdomen.


We scheduled him for an ultrasound and exploratory surgery of the abdomen on Tuesday. The ultrasound showed a large mass on his right kidney with possible mass on liver. The fluid was blood. The surgeon said that he could send it in but that it would probably just come back as blood and not help in the diagnosis.


He was worried that the bleeding might be from the mass or the organs, and he was not optimistic that he would be able to completely remove the mass due to what the ultrasound showed. He said that the right kidney might have to be removed and that it may also involve the liver.


He would have to do exploratory surgery to find out. Because of the size, location, and bleeding he felt the chance of the biopsy coming back and showing cancer was good and that it had already metastasized was good also. He felt that surgery would probably only add maybe 2 months. The oncologist would probably recommend chemotherapy.


If we didn't put him through surgery or chemo what we would expect to see. He said that he could bleed out and die in his sleep or he may just collapse because of blood loss but that he wouldn't be in pain. We would


 

I'm sorry to hear about Clyde's situation. This is a tough one to be in. I know you want to do what is best for him. You want to help him to have as long and healthy of a life as possible. That is your vet's goal too. It looks like your post got cut off at the end. I want to help as much as I can here.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

We should watch the color of his gums, his abdomen, difficulty breathing, and any changes from normal.


As much as we want to help him, we feel that to put him through all that wouldn't be fair. We have opted not to do anything and to keep him as comfortable as we can until it is his time to pass.


I talked to his regular vet today. Unfortunately she went through the same thing with her golden. She said in the middle of the night he started having problems with his breathing and knew the end was close. She didn't want him to suffer so she took him to an emergency vet and had him euthanized.


It is doubly hard as his sister passed last April from a different cancer. At least her's was able to be treated by vaccine. She lived for 1 1/2 years before it stopped working.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

We should watch the color of his gums, his abdomen, difficulty breathing, and any changes from normal.


As much as we want to help him, we feel that to put him through all that wouldn't be fair. We have opted not to do the surgery and to keep him as comfortable as we can until it is his time to pass. We are going to a homeopathic vet tomorrow to see what other options there are.


I talked to his regular vet today. Unfortunately she went through the same thing with her golden. She said in the middle of the night he started having problems with his breathing and knew the end was close. She didn't want him to suffer so she took him to an emergency vet and had him euthanized.


It is doubly hard as his sister passed last April from a different cancer. At least her's was able to be treated by vaccine. She lived another 1 1/2 years before it stopped working.


If you have any other advise please let me know.


Thank you for your help

It sounds like you're making a decision for Clyde that I would make for my own dog if he was in a similar situation. Given those results of the ultrasound, it sounds like a surgery would be nothing more than confirmation of where the cancer was and what specific origin / type it was. It doesn't sound like it would prolong his life. Your vet has advised you very well with watching the color of his gums, his abdomen, difficulty breathing, and any changes from normal. I would throw into this how he is acting overall with his energy. If he is getting really run down and just not wanting to do the things that make him happy too. I know this is a broad generalization, but you know what makes him happy. I hope that he stays comfortable and happy for as long as possible. I know he's been a good friend for a long time. When the time comes to make the decision to let him go, please know it is the last gift you can give him to let him go with peace.