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A brighter future ahead for Poppie!
21 August 2016
Poppie, a lovely, very active, 5 year old Labrador was referred to Willows Veterinary Centre for a second opinion regarding a cancerous tumour of her lower lip. She had already had one operation but tests had shown that cancerous cells could have been left behind and the tumour was likely to recur. Poppie was seen by Amy Knapman, one of Willows’ general practitioners, who referred Poppie to surgical Specialist Vincent Guerin.
Tests on the tumour after the original operation had shown it was consistent with an aggressive grade 3/3 soft tissue sarcoma. These tumours have a tendency to develop tiny roots invading the surrounding tissue. Those roots are not visible without a microscope and the visible part of the tumour is only the “tip of the iceberg”. Soft tissue sarcomas are associated with a high recurrence rate of up to 75% if the roots are left behind, and metastatic disease (spreading of the tumour) to various organs including the lymph nodes and lungs can be seen in around 40% of dogs.
Vincent aspirated Poppie’s lymph nodes and performed a CT scan of her other organs, which showed no signs of metastatic disease. Further surgery to remove any remaining tumour cells was recommended to reduce the risk of the tumour growing back and spreading. The surgery involved removing 2-3cm of tissue around the scar left by the previous surgery, to remove the remaining tumour. It also meant that a small part of Poppie’s lower jaw had to be removed. Anaesthesia Specialist Diane Wilson performed local anaesthesia of the lower jaw to make sure Poppie would not be in pain during or after surgery. The surgery went according to plan and Poppie recovered remarkably well. She was comfortable and eating on her own the day after surgery. She was discharged from Willows’ hospital 24 hours after surgery.
Poppie the day after her operation at Willows showing her stitches
Microscopic examination of the part of the lower jaw removed during surgery showed that the tumour had been completely excised. This means that the risk of the tumour growing back in the future is much lower than before the operation. Poppie was re-examined ten days after surgery. The wound was healing well and the skin sutures were removed. She was able to go swimming and play with her favourite ball again four weeks after surgery. Following the advice of cancer Specialist James Elliot, Poppie will keep coming back regularly to Willows to monitor for signs of recurrence and metastasis, but there is a very good chance the tumour will never grow back.
Poppie the day after her surgery
Some great photos of Poppie after her recovery enjoying the sea...
This is Vincent’s dog Bruno. He was very kindly given this gift from Poppie and her family as a thank you!