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Titus beats the battle!
28 October 2015
Titus is a beautiful, 6-year-old, Flat Coated Retriever who was presented to James Elliott, medical oncology Specialist for investigation of a large, very fast growing tumour inside his oral cavity (mouth). The home vets for Titus had taken a sample (biopsy) of the lump which unfortunately revealed an unusual type of tumour which the pathologists were not sure exactly what sort of cancer it was. A specialised test called immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed which helps determine its type and this revealed a T-cell lymphoma. It is very unusual to find this type of cancer in the mouth.
Further investigation was needed to see the extent of the cancer and if it had spread elsewhere. The Specialist imaging team here at Willows carried out a CT scan. Sadly the CT scan revealed the large tumour had already invaded into much of the upper jaw bone. Fortunately however the nearby lymph nodes were normal in appearance and there was no obvious spread of the cancer to the chest/lungs or any of the internal organs.
Surgery was performed by Willows’ Specialist cancer surgeon Stephen Baines (one of only 2 veterinary establishments in the country to have such a specialist) which produced complete excision of the cancer from the mouth. However the tumour was confirmed as a high grade T-cell lymphoma. This means that the tumour is a very rapidly growing one and has a high risk of spreading to other sites in the future.
Lymphoma is a type of cancer which has arisen from the white blood cells called lymphocytes. These cells naturally travel easily around the body and unfortunately in almost all dogs with lymphoma, there is often widespread disease at the microscopic level by the time of diagnosis. So even though Titus’ CT scan was clear, it was considered very likely that other cancer cells would be sitting somewhere else in his body.
James therefore recommended a course of chemotherapy with the aim of “mopping up” cancer cells that may be in other sites in an attempt to give Titus the best outcome possible. This consisted of a 6-month course of multi-drug chemotherapy which has now finished.
Titus was a somewhat tricky case as he had several episodes of very low white blood cell counts during his treatment which needed dose adjustments and treatment delays whilst James found a protocol that suited him well. As with most dogs with lymphoma Titus enjoyed a very good quality of life on treatment and the owners have been thrilled with how well he has done.
Titus is a case that exemplifies the benefits of diagnostics and treatment at a centre like Willows with the rare combination of both medical and surgical cancer specialists with on-site advanced imaging and top-tier chemotherapy facilities.
Titus will be monitored closely now he has stopped his treatment in case of any reoccurrence in the future. But for now the owners are very pleased that he is so happy and that he has coped with his treatment so well.