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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 21220
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My 8 yo male Rottweiler is presenting bone cancer symptoms

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My 8 yo male Rottweiler is presenting bone cancer symptoms on his right rear leg.
The symptoms started in November 2012 after a 10 min run he started to yelp when sitting down or getting up but after 2 weeks of anti inflammatory medication and rest he got better.
Then again on March 2013 he went for another 5 min run but this time he is not getting better, he is actually getting worse. It is now May and he has started to lose weight, doesn't eat unless I hand feed him and doesn't want to get up o go for walks, seems to be in constant pain even though I give him anti inflammatory drugs ( 40mg onsior 3 times a day) and codeine ( 2 times a day)
We have done 2 xrays and they both show nothing. The vet says its early stages of cancer thats why nothing shows on xrays as its still inside the bone. nothing else has been ruled out but his symptoms clearly indicate bone cancer.
What can I do? I want to start treatment ASAP. I don't want to wait any longer and see him in pain. The painkillers don't seem to do a good job and don't want to put him down. Should u ask my vet to start chemo and amputate the leg even though there is no definite diagnosis? Should I recommend to do xrays on his chest? Please help I want to help my boy

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

I am so sorry to hear about Rambo's excruciating situation. Now if he is in this much pain, you are right to want to take steps in addressing it now. But I must say that while a bone tumor would be a definite suspect with these clinical signs, on their own they are not really enough to proceed with aggressive treatments like chemotherapy and amputation. This is because severe orthopedic pain at the level of the bone can be triggered by more then bone cancer like the osteosarcoma. It can also be induced by the chondrosarcoma, diffuse squamous cell caricomas of the bone's periosteum, synovial cell tumors of the joint and even some fungal diseases (ie coccidiodomycosis). And if we were to use chemo targeting the wrong cancer or if a fungal agent is to blame, we may see no improvement despite our treatment.

Therefore, in Rambo's situation, it would be prudent to use advanced diagnostics to identify which agent is to blame. To do so, you may consider discussing aspiration or biopsy of the bone. Typically, these procedures will require a sedation or anesthetic (since no dog likely people poking their sore bits). Once collected these samples can be sent to the veterinary pathologists and they can tell you if it is a tumor and which one it is. Once you know what is present, you will be in a much better position to address it properly with either chemo or surgical amputation to ensure the best chance of success for him.

In regards XXXXX XXXXX xrays, they are always a good idea when we are concerned about a malignant cancer being present. And if you did have him in for an biopsy, this would the perfect time to get an xray of the lungs to make sure there is no obvious spread already present.

Furthermore, if xray has been unrewarding in pinpointing the potential cancer, then you might want to consider seeking referral to a specialist centre that can perform a CT or bone scan. This type of scan would allow you to appreciate if there is a potential cancer within the bone of this leg.

Overall, his signs are suspicious of an osteosarcoma but there are other considerations that could be to blame. Therefore, while your treatment approach would be reasonable, it would be best to know 'who' you were fighting before going down the treatment route. Therefore, it is worth a discussion with your vet about biopsies and chest xrays. Alternatively, if your vet doesn't think we have non-cancerous differentials to consider and the chest xray is clear, you could choose to amputate with a view of sending a bone sample for analysis. Because even after the leg is removed, chemo is often indicated and again it is very important to know what type of tumor is present so that the chemotherapy can be used as effectively as possible.


I hope this information is helpful.

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

Dr. B.


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