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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 20855
Experience:  Hello, I am a small animal veterinarian and am happy to discuss any concerns & questions you have on any species.
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Fiona, I live in NYC and I just received a diagnosis that my

Customer Question

Hi Fiona, I live in NYC and I just received a diagnosis that my almost 14 year old (next month is her birthday) German Shepard mix has a tumor (unknown if it's cancerous) in her spleen which has spread to her lymph nodes. I don't know what exactly this means but I want to save her life. I am not a multi millionaire but I am wondering on the costs and what I can do to help.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I am afraid that the expert you have requested is not currently available. Still I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Did her vet xray her lungs? Was tumor seen there?

Did they take any samples of the lymph nodes or spleen to diagnose what type of mass this was?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Nekovet, When I took her in they noticed her spleen was a bit enlarged so they took xrays. It included her heart which is a bit enlarged, her spleen and her lungs. They did notice something but couldn't say for sure until the Ultrasound and EKG.After the Ultrasound they confirmed the tumor this morning and confirmed that it spread to her lymph nodes. But her heart is strong even though it's a bit enlarged. They think it is enlarged due to the tumor.We have not done a biopsy as yet as I just received the news this morning.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Oops Dr. B... so sorry I called you Nekovet...
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

No worries, either is fine.

Now I must say that I am very worried about your lass.

To hear that her vet suspects that this has already spread to her lymph nodes tells us that a cancerous tumor (likely a hemangiosarcoma) is present here. This is because any other splenic mass (ie hematoma, scar tissue, etc) isn't going to affect or spread to the nodes. Only a cancer would do that.

Therefore, this is a real worry, especially as the hemangiosarcoma is a tumor that doesn't tend to be very responsive to chemotherapy. And that would be the type of treatment one would have to consider here if there has been spread through the body. We could still consider removing the primary tumor as the spleen is not a critical organ and we do tend to since there is the risk of it rupturing suddenly, but again we'd still have cancer in the body and therefore her prognosis is guarded even if we did so.

With this bad news in mind, I do want to note that survival times are not amazing even if we do everything with this type of cancer. If we were to remove the spleen, on average that only tends to give us ~2 months. And even if we had gotten to her before spread, surgery with chemo together usually only buys 6-10 months. So, it is a terrible, terrible tumor type to potentially have.

Now at this point, I would note that you could request that your vet take a fine needle aspirate or biopsy of one of her lymph nodes. We could take this from the splenic mass, but there is a risk of bleeding, so the node may be a safer option. And if they suspect spread, then we'd expect to find our tumor there and be able to confirm it. Cost-wise, aspirates tend to be ~$100-150 but this can vary a we bit by practice (though they should be able to give you an estimate at this point). As well, surgery for the splenic removal can be ~500-1000$ again subject to an individual practice's charges. And chemo would totally depend on what drugs they chose to use.

Overall, I am quite concerned to hear that we have spread to the nodes here. This just really raises worries that this is a hemangiosarcoma on the spleen. And if it has spread already, curing this is unlikely and we will be limited in what we can do to keep her comfortable.

Please take care, my thoughts are with you,

Dr. B.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.


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