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Jessica’s chemotherapy journey
25 March 2018
Jessica is a 7-year-old Flat Coated Retriever who presented 5 months ago with a severe lameness of her left front leg. She was otherwise quite well, but her limp was clearly bothering her as she is normally such an active dog. Her referring vet had identified a thickening near her left shoulder/armpit and performed a needle biopsy which revealed a highly malignant tumour. Jessica was referred to Willows for further assessment.
Further investigation by James Elliott, one of the oncology Specialists, unfortunately revealed a highly aggressive soft tissue tumour around Jessica’s left shoulder joint called Histiocytic Sarcoma (HS). There was suspicion of spread to some lymph nodes nearby inside the chest. For this reason, amputation was declined by the owner as the tumour had likely already started to spread to other areas. Unfortunately HS is an all too familiar cancer in the Oncology department at Willows and is a leading cause of mortality in the Flat Coated Retriever Breed.
Jessica began chemotherapy which can be highly effective in some patients with HS but unfortunately can have very limited benefit in others. Thankfully, only a couple of weeks after starting her chemotherapy, Jessica’s limp dramatically improved and she was full of beans. She tolerated her chemotherapy exceptionally well too. On examination there is now no mass to be seen or felt!
She is now coming towards the end of her planned chemotherapy, which is exceptionally good for a Flat Coat with HS. A recent repeat CT scan showed a really good response and no evidence of the tumour having spread elsewhere to other organs. Unfortunately we have to remain pessimistic about a cure given the nature of her cancer, but with such a good initial response we do hope that her follow-up ‘maintenance’ chemotherapy helps to suppress any remaining tumour cells for as long as possible and allow her to continue living life to the full.
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