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Dr. Wes. My Yorkie mix just passed last week of what we

think was liver cancer. The...
Dr. Wes. My Yorkie mix just passed last week of what we think was liver cancer. The vet did an extensive ultrasound and said the whole liver was infected. I only had four days from ultrasound to his passing. If I really jumped on this do you think I could have found someone anywhere at any price who could have attempted a liver transplant? Thx, john
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Answered in 3 hours by:
11/22/2017
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 17,708
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian
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Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns. I am sorry that you have waited a while for a response but your requested expert was not online to respond so our moderator asked if I would be willing to respond.

My deepest condolences on your loss.

Liver transplants are not something we routinely perform in veterinary medicine for a few reasons.

If his cancer was a solitary tumor then removal of the solitary tumor (or in many cases the entire lobe where the tumor is located) could be curative. Solitary liver tumors tend to be hepatocellular carcinomas which are slow to metastasize (spread) so removing the tumor can affect a cure. The liver is an organ that can regenerate, so in time the missing lobe could regenerate and he would be perfectly healthy. There would be no need for a transplant.

However when there are multiple tumors throughout the liver that generally means one of two things

1) that the cancer did not originate in the liver, but rather spread from another place in the body. The liver is a filter organ and as such is an organ we commonly see metastatic tumor spread in.

2) Conversely odds are that even if this were a primary liver cancer if there were multiple tumors then the cancer has likely spread, at the very least to local organs (spleen) or lymph nodes.

If metastatic cancer is present then a transplant is pointless, the cancer will affect the new liver, and the drugs used to suppress his immune system so his body accepts a new liver would also suppress immune system functions that help keep cancer somewhat under control. Odds are that those immunosuppressive drugs needed in animals with a transplant would allow the cancer to come back at a more aggressive rate.

I understand how heartbroken you must be, and you are likely having thoughts of "what if?" It is hard to lose a beloved friend, but especially so with out time to process the initial diagnosis, let alone the loss. But truly he was a very sick fellow and it was very, very unlikely that a transplant would ever be a good option for a dog given the types of cancer they get.

I hope that this information can give you some peace.

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Please let me know if you have any further questions on what I have written.

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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Dr. Kara thank you very much for your detailed response. I have done alot of research the past few days and what you are telling me makes perfect sense. Yes I am completely heartbroken and it would be my wish that somewhere in the near future veterinary science could come up with a breakthrough so others don't have to suffer as I and my beautiful dog have. I just needed to hear this from another vet who had nothing to do with my unfortunate situation. Thank you for putting my mind at peace. John

John, I am glad I could give you peace and confirm the information that your veterinarian gave you. Cancer is a very difficult disease as it often progresses without many signs until things have progressed beyond our being able to help. That is true for both dogs and people. My heart goes out to you and your family. I know this is a difficult time but know all medical professionals are working very hard to find answers and make the future less bleak for cancer patients. Please take care and take comfort in knowing that at least she didn't suffer long and lived a happy life with you.

Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 17,708
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian
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I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

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