Please Help: Mast Cell Tumors

Discussion in 'Canine Mast Cell Tumors Related' started by Sununga (and Camila), Apr 8, 2016.

  1. Sununga (and Camila)

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    4 years ago, Sununga who is a terrier mix (stafordshire and mastiff or pitbull, we're not sure) was diagnosed with a Mast Cell tumor. Since then he has had a total of 7 Mast Cell tumors removed in three surgeries and he was just diagnosed with 2 more today.

    His health issues started when Sununga's fur started falling off, he was extremely uncomfortable and itchy. The vets were very concerned and said he was having a major allergic reaction. We changed his diet, added some histamine and he got better almost instantly. (He only eats venison, buffalo, fish, rabbit and sometimes duck- all grain-free limited diet formulas with added omega 3 oil).

    About 3 months or so later he had a lump on his back. He had at that point 3-4 lumps biopsied that were all nothing. He also had pimples or ingrown hairs at times- so I wasn't fast to take him to the vet. A few weeks later the lump had grown and started bleeding. It looked nasty, so I brought him in and was in complete denial when the vet said it was a mast cell. I was in shock. So much I didn't believe the vet and took him the next day for a second opinion. I was devastated to hear the word cancer, I thought I was about to lose my best friend and he'd be down a path of suffering more and more as time went on. I thought this was a death sentence, I was in complete grief and desperation.

    I was explained that we needed to remove the tumor right away. Within a day he was at the hospital getting ready for surgery. When I came to pick him up after, I was completely heartbroken. I didn't expect such a HUGE scar, he looked miserable, it was awful. They explained having to take wide margins, I just had no idea half of his back would have a scar across is.

    The lab came back saying it was a Grade 2. Everywhere I looked online at the time said he wouldn't live more than another year- the vets told me it could spread to lymphs and more- and to keep a close eye. No more treatment needed, just histamine and keep his diet.

    It took him almost 2 months to fully recover from this 1st surgery. He sat without moving much for that entire time, It was very very difficult to see him so out of it and so helpless.

    Almost 1.5 years later, and now I'm "lump paranoid", checking him every day and bringing him in for several benign lump biopsies, I saw 1 that looked ultra suspicious because it changed often in size from small to large and large to small. Sure enough, another mast cell. Another surgery.

    This time after surgery, he took maybe 7 days at most to recover and lab results showed a grade 1. I was relieved. His fast recovery I believe was because we got a new puppy in the house and I truly think it helped speed up his recovery. That same month he is back to swimming and playing, being happy.

    Almost a year later, I took him in for several more suspicious lumps and this time he had 5 new mast cell tumors. I am devastated again, and this time decided to see an oncologist for a specialist's opinion. She explained that surgery is what we would have to do again, they'd take out all 5 at the same time and I could start him on radiation therapy or chemotherapy if I wanted to, but to wait to see the results from the lab after surgery to decide.

    I was sure this would be another 2 months or longer of a recovery and I couldn't imagine the hell Sununga would be in after 5 wide margin tumor removals at once. It seemed like way too much, I was terrified.

    Sununga took maybe 5 days to recover from the surgery, I had to slow him down and force him to take it slow! All his wounds healed brilliantly. I couldn't believe it.

    All 5 tumors came back grade 1. I decided against chemo and against radiation because I was scared it would make him feel terrible and he felt fine. So I continued some histamine treatments occasionally along with his special diet.

    1.5 years went by after that with nothing. Today I took him to the vet with some very small lumps that seemed suspicious, 2 of them came back mast cell. One of which is on his tail.

    The vet said that since they are both very small, caught early and 6 out of his 7 mast cells have been grade 1, she is suggesting to do a smaller margin surgery for both tumors that wouldn't be taking wide margins, which wouldn't need general anesthesia and would be quite simple. If any of the labs come back grade 2 or higher, we'd have to have another more aggressive surgery.

    The reason she suggested this instead of doing wide margins right away as usual, is because the other option means that the one on his tail would require amputating his tail. Or I could do the wide margin on the one on his back and do a small removal on his tail, keeping his tail. If the tail lump comes back grade 1 we wouldn't need to do anything else, if it comes back grade 2 or higher then we'd have to amputate the tail in a 2nd surgery right away.

    This is mainly why I'm writing for some advice, guidance, support- anything. I have no idea what to do. I feel like wide margin surgeries are what have kept Sununga alive for 4 years- but at the same time- If they're only grade 1, do I have to put him through a wide margin surgery again?

    When she said removing his tail, I broke down emotionally in my mind. I was so saddened by this thought. I don't want that to happen...but I also don't want his cancer to spread- I really would hate for him to need chemo or radiation.

    Other than these damn mast cells Sununga is a super happy, affectionate, playful, attentive, curious dog who eats well, looks and acts healthy. He is a bit overweight- but not obese.

    My other reason for posting: Is there anything I can do to STOP and prevent these tumors from re-occurring? The vet and oncologist said no (except trying some radiation or chemo that may or may not help but will make him feel awful and could cause other complications). The vet also said taking a histamine daily would help but it makes him so tired and groggy, not playful, seeming depressed- so I rarely give it to him..I want him to have a good quality of life.

    I've read about everything from switching to raw food, to medicinal marijuana without the thc so he won't get "high"...he is having surgery every 1-1.5 years in the last 4 years and I wish I could help prevent that or help make the surgeries less frequent.

    Thank you for taking the time to read about Sununga~ he is truly an amazing soul who has saved my life several times and I really want to save his.
     
  2. Nancy Westrell

    Nancy Westrell New Member

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    My friend has a wonderful pitbull that was diagnosed with mast cell tumors. She uses the ANTI-histamine Benadry, because the malignant cells seem to use the histamine system to travel in the body. Benadryl at night makes sense - and if it helps prevent tumor development, what's a little drowsiness? She also has changed her dog to a no-carbohydrate diet. No grains, no potatoes, no rice or barley, no corn - just meat and some veggies. She also gives the dog some herbs to boost the immune system, maybe turmeric. Her dog has survived initial diagnosis for over two years, and is doing just great!
     

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