Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Melanoma, Red Dog Style

Well, the pathology results are in: the tumor removed from Shiva's foot was melanoma. While anything malignant is a drag, this news from Dr. Mitch isn't all bad. For one thing, a skin melanoma such as hers is slow to metastasize and often won't recur in the case of successful removal. Another positive was this particular tumor's low mitotic index. In layperson's terms, this means the cells of the tumor were reproducing (and thus the tumor was growing) quite slowly. If that wasn't good news enough, x-rays of her foot/leg area, chest and abdomen show no signs of either its spread or the return of the bad stuff. For this, we are ever so grateful.

Now, education time! Melanoma generally occurs on the skin (often on the foot) or in and around the mouth. Here are a couple photos of it on Shiva. In the one where she's chewing the bone, it is almost completely obscured by the fur on top of her foot. (It's probably a good idea to click it to enlarge.) In fact, this photo was taken a couple days prior to the tumor's discovery.





The photo with the dime (taken after its discovery and a trim of the obscuring fur) shows both the size and scale of the tumor and its classic dark pigmentation.











While prognoses for melanomas that involve the toes or the mouth are not as good as for those of the skin, most can be treated surgically if caught early. This means making a habit of performing regular checks of your dog's skin and mouth, paying special attention to the areas between the toes, in and around the nail beds and both the lips and the throat.

As the pictures here attest, long haired breeds need special attention because their fur easily can hide those nasty suckers. It's time to get hands-on, people! Click here for expert information and several helpful photos.

Pre- and post-surgical photos of the tumor can be found here, although they are not recommended for the squeamish.

Remember one thing: early detection is critical if you hope to achieve a positive outcome in your dog's fight against canine cancer. Shiva the Red Dog (and now her BFF Katy) is living testament that miracles can and do happen, and statistics are nothing more than numbers waiting to be disproved.

Comments, questions and suggestions are all welcome here, so join in the fun!

2 comments:

  1. Thanks Brian- and excellent news Shiva! as always so wonderful how you help to inform and educate- hugs to all of you
    Doc Chery

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  2. Shiva, you know how to scare us. Don't do that anymore OK? Glad this is mostly good news. Take care of your pack now, ya hear?

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