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My ten year old Aussie has been diagnosed with a gum tumor in the upper front gum called acanthomatous epulis or acanthomatous ameloblastoma. The treatment options offered by the vet are surgery to remove a large part of her jaw (7-9 cm) including bone or several radiation treatments (the nearest clinic with radiation treatments is a two and a half hour drive away and if 12 treatments are necessary I wouldn't be able to take that much time off work not to mention that 12 treatments will cost about $7200). I don’t want to put a price on my dog’s life but I don’t have unlimited funds. The chemotherapy injections weren’t recommended. Both of the recommended treatments seem drastic and not treating the tumor is an option. It is benign so it won't spread to other parts of her body but it is described as aggressive and the tumor is in her jaw bone. The visible part of the tumor was removed for the biopsy about 3-4 weeks ago and has already grown back and I think it is larger. The vet was very vague about whether it will be fatal and how fast it will grow and I haven't been able to find any specific information regarding these topics in the literature I have read. If anyone has any experience with this type of tumor I would appreciate any advice about what treatment was chosen, how the tumor progressed, if it returned, how much it cost to treat and any other information. Thank you in advance.
 

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Unfortunately those are the two best treatment options. The problem is, this type of tumor almost always invades the underlying bone so any less aggressive surgery (like just removing the lump) means that it will probably just grow back. The good news is, if you DO do surgery or radiation, there's a very high likelihood (>90%) that it will be curative.
 

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My 13 1/2 yr. old sheltie was diagnosed with acanthotamous epulis 2 years ago. Because of the tumor's proximity to the eye it could not be removed surgically. Due to the tumor's aggressive nature and the wide margins required in its removal, surgery was not an option. Instead she had a 3 week course of radiation therapy - 5 days a week. The treatment appeared to have been successful, although it left a big hole in the roof of her mouth where the tumor had been. I had to make sure food did not get stuck in the hole. Small price to pay as far as I am concerned!! I was told that the treatment would give us between 3 and 5 years, whereas if we did nothing she would be gone in 4-6 months. Unfortunately her tumor is back after only 2 years. We noticed changes about 2 months ago and went back to the veterinary oncologist. They recommended 2-3 short spurts of radiation therapy in order to arrest the progression. We did that, but this tumor is nasty, and although it stopped growing in one direction, it has spread in another. In addition, because it is in the nasal/mouth area where there is a lot of bacteria she has developed a bacterial infection. We are on our 5th antibiotic but the infection is still there. She has a greenish drainage from her nose, and just yesterday it also became bloody. The tumor has grown much bigger. She is also on prednisone to help with inflamation. Her appetite is still really good, and for that I am grateful. But she has slowed down a lot, and at some point soon we will have to make a decision. This is my "heart" dog, so even thinking about the final decision is very difficult for me. I do not want her to suffer though. Shelties are very stoic, so it isn't always easy to tell when they are suffering.

I am so grateful that we have a wonderful canine oncologist, and that we chose to have the tumor treated. Now that it is back all we can do is provide palliative care and keep her comfortable. The treatment was not cheap. All told we probably have spent upwards of $8,000. Maybe more. We are not rich, but we were able to pay for the treatment interest free by using the CareCredit card. Having our dog treated was the right decision for her and for us. You have to decide what is right for you and your dog. No decision is wrong, except allowing the dog to suffer. That's my opinion anyway. I wish you the best of luck with your dog!!
 
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