So, Cedar went to work with me on my last overnight last week. He has had this little skin tag on his toe that I wanted taken off so that I could stop thinking and worrying about it. He nicely dontated a unit of blood at the same time. (We have a blood donor program at work) We did regular bloodwork at the same time, including a vaccination titer for distemper and parvovirus. We sent the little tag from his toe off to the pathologist, just to make sure. My boss thought by the looks of it that it was a viral papilloma, nothing to worry about.
I went into work this week and the histopathology report finally came back (it takes about 5 days). On the report I saw words that every veterinary proffessional dreads, Hemangiosarcoma.
This type of cancer when on the organs, the most common place, kills many, many dogs every year. I see it several times a week at least, usually in Labradors and Golden Retrievers (another reason to never own one of these breeds!) It is usually found on the spleen or the heart. Dogs who have this sadly can bleed to death quickly when the tumor ruptures. Most owners don't know that their pet has it until they collapse from blood loss.
I had never heard of this type of cancer being on the skin, some of my veterinary co-workers had not heard of this either, apparantly it is caused by the sun and it is rare. Just my luck, to have a rare diagnosis. Just an FYI, people who work in the veterinary field tend to have animals that get rare diseases. For some reason we just seem to end up with animals that get medical issues, maybe in some cosmic way it is meant to happen...I had a dog, Aspen, a Rottie Lab mix who at 4 1/2 was diagnosed with nasal adenocarcinoma. Nasal cancer accounts for less than 1% of all canine cancers, and it is almost never seen in dogs under age 9. Just my luck...Poor Aspen passed away right before his 5th birthday.
Anyway, back to Cedar...So, luckily, with this type of Hemangiosarcoma, as long as it hasn't spread, the prognosis is excellent with a full resection of the tumor. The margins on Cedar's tumor were clear, which is great, but we are going to resect a bit more of the skin on his toe just to make sure we don't miss anything. Small price to pay for him to stay alive! Initially we thought we were going to have to take his toe off, Ouch! Luckily the research shows that is not necessary...Phew...
So, being caused by the sun, the recommendations are to use sunblock and wear sunblock clothing (these tumors are usually found on lighter colored skin on the abdomen). The surgeon and I laughed at that one, my Vizsla with sunblock on his toes and SPF 50+clothing on! Let me tell you, he would love it! Maybe I will get him some Doggles too, to protect his eyes!
So, if you see a large pasty white Vizsla with a lovely Luau type shirt, pants and a sweet set of glasses, it is probably Cedar!