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What is the time frame for survival? What can...

Resolved • Response time -7 minutes

6 Jan 2009

What is the time frame for survival? What can I expect as far as symptoms and behavior as time goes by? Will he suffer?
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6 Jan 2009

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Dog Specialist's response
6 Jan 2009
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP
Veterinarian, DABVP Canine/Feline
I am so sad to hear that your dog has been diagnosed with oral melanoma. I'm going to give you the facts, which may be a little difficult to hear. There is hope, though, with a new treatment discussed below.

In general, the oral melanoma is the most aggressive form of melanoma in dogs. It is the most common oral cancer we see in dogs.

The behavior of the cancer can vary depending on the size when removed, how aggressive it appeared on the biopsy sample, and if your surgeon was able to remove it all. The pathologist who read the biopsy can report about the aggressiveness of the tumor. Once you've had a few tests done to see if the cancer has already spread (staging), you can assign a grade to the tumor. The lower the grade, the better. It will be important to have a better idea about what to expect for your dog if you have the cancer staged. Staging is straight forward, and will consist of aspirating both lymph nodes under the jaw and evaluating for cancer cells, performing a full cbc/chem/electrolyte/urinalysis screen, and taking chest x-rays to look for any spread (metastasis). For some cases, an abdominal ultrasound may also be indicated.

Staging will probably cost a few hundred dollars, but will help you determine your best course of action.

Unfortunately, oral melanomas tend to recur locally and metastasize to lymph nodes, the brain, lungs, and other tissue. Treatment with surgery alone yields an average median survival time of 150-318 days, with only 35% surviving to 1 year. Stage 1 dogs do better, with average survival 511 days, but stage 2 survive only 165 days (median). Stage 3 and 4 cases have even shorter life expectencies. Radiation treatment and radical surgical procedures can improve survival outcome significantly.

The good news is that recently Merial has introduced a vaccine for dogs with melanoma that has been very helpful, and is showing to dramatically extend survival times. This vaccine can only be administered by a veterinary oncologist, so you will need a referral from your vet to see a specialist for this type of treatment.

So far the data has shown median survival times for melanoma with the use of the vaccine is as follows:

Stage I > 939 days with 92.8% survival

Stage II > 908 days with 79% living 1 year and 63% living 2 years

Stage III > 1646 days with 77% living 1 year, 65% living 2 years and 57% living 3 years

Stage IV = 293 days with 40.5% living 1 year and 18.8% living 2 years

More information on the vaccine can be found at www.merial.com.

If left untreated, it is difficult to say how things will progress. Locally, tumors may recur and grow, causing pain and difficulty eating. Spread of the disease can cause swollen lymph nodes, coughing, difficulty breathing, and severe weight loss. Pain management will be important if the disease progresses.

Please let me know how thing go. If I can answer any other questions, don't hesitate to ask. I'll be keeping you and your spaniel in my thoughts.

Sincerely,

Dr. Devlin

6 Jan 2009
Customer reply
6 Jan 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for the helpful information. He has been a wonderful dog and treated like a king... Spoiled with endless Love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Jan 2009
Dog Specialist's response
6 Jan 2009
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP
You are welcome. Thank you for the bonus.

I hope he does well for you and I'm glad you are looking into all the options for your little guy.

Sincerely,
Dr. D
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP
Veterinarian, DABVP Canine/Feline
Avg. question only $30
DABVP, Specialist in Canine and Feline Medicine, Veterinarian since 2000
6 Jan 2009
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