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I've just come back from the vet discussing my foster dog's further options, she had a tumour removed 3 months ago that turned out to be a malignant melanoma :'( but fortunately it does not seem to have spread to her lungs! The second tumour she had removed 2 weeks ago and has come back as benign!!

She's not been herself for the past week or so, very light pink tongue, off her food and sleeping a lot (more than usual!), her surgery wound is also not healing up and still discharging fluid, i'm cleaning it twice a day and have bought some manuka honey, but they're refusing to spend more money stitching her so are just chucking antibiotics down her neck instead!! They've said that they cannot afford to do any more x rays or cancer tests on her so basically if I adopt her now i'm just completely taking my chances. I have no savings for cancer treatment as i'm currently paying to go through university on a very low animal care wage, but i've grown so attached to this dog it would break me to lose her now.

Does anyone on here have any experience with dogs that have had a malignant melanoma removed that could give me some advice/help me know what to expect? Would appreciate it so much, the shelter vet is useless but they won't let me take her to my own until I adopt her!! Thanks a lot :)
 

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Hi I'm so sorry to read about your story and sorry that no one was able to give you any advice. I have a similar situation and was wondering if you'd be willing to share the outcome of your foster dog's situation? I have a foster dog that I've had for four months and was curious what to expect as far as his health down the road. The shelter vet only thought he had a few months. He seems to be fine now. Its hard to find any info out there so I was wondering how things went with your dog. I appreciate any help!!
Thanks!
 

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In general, Melanoma is a relatively benign cancer (unlike in humans where it tends to be aggressive). Most Melanomas that occur over the neck/trunk/legs are benign and almost never spread. An exception to this rule are Melanomas that occur in the mouth or along the toenails (nailbeds), which tend to be exceptionally aggressive. So, when you say "malignant melanoma" is that a general statement or did the pathologist who read the biopsy specifically state that this tumor was malignant and aggressive? Also, it would be nice to know what the biopsy on the second tumor showed. (If it was another Melanoma that might be concerning, but if it was some other, unrelated benign tumor, it wouldn't change the case at all.)
The most important part of treating a Melanoma is removing it surgically. If the tumor is recurrent, or metastatic, or clearly malignant when biopsied, there is now a Melanoma vaccine available. This is not a preventative vaccine (i.e. you would never give it to a healthy pet with the hope of avoiding developing Melanoma); rather it is intended to be given as a treatment once Melanoma has been documented. At this time it appears to be very effective and is not particularly expensive, but may only be administered by a cancer specialist (a board certified oncologist). Given that you wrote your original post several months ago, by this time you doubtless already know if the mass has spread or not. If not, then I hope that your dog is doing well. If it has metastasized, see if there is an oncologist in your area with whom you can discuss the Melanoma vaccine.
 

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I know your reply was to the OP but I appreciate it too and was hoping for some advice. My foster dogs tumor was removed from his chest area and the pathology report did state malignant melanoma with a mitotic(?) rate of 8. It had invaded the subcutaneous tissue also. I am not sure how big it was but the biopsy sample stated 2cm. They were not sure about clear margins but did not go back in and remove more tissue. They did biopsy a lymph node it it came back as only "inflamed" or "enlarged" or something but no cancer. His stitch job was not good and he seemed to have a reaction to the sutures. His chest area was very tight but has finally loosened a bit. Anyway, my personal vet says that we can go in and remove more tissue to give him a better chance. The lump was found about 4 1/2 months ago (when he entered the shelter), he didn't have surgery for about a month(!) and he recovered for about a month before we got him. They are not going to do anything else for him. I am wondering if we should adopt him, have xrays/Labs taken to make sure the cancer has not spread, and then have the surgery to make sure the cancer is all gone. Does this sound like the right course of action. I don't want to put him through any more surgery if it has already spread. My vet did say he needed to wait a little while until his skin wasn't so tight but it is finally okay. He seems healthy overall but he has a few vomiting episodes lately and he is constantly licking....constantly. I'm wondering if he is nauseated as he didn't do this quite as much when he first arrived. He does tend to wheeze on occasion when he walks but doesn't want to slow down much. After vomiting he was wheezing/stridor pretty badly for a few minutes. sounded more like his upper airway then his lungs. Anyway, if you have any info or opinion about his situation I would love to hear it!
Thank you!!! (also he is 8 years old...mix breed)
 

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I think your plan is a good one. 8 mitotic figures/HPF is a relatively high rate (low rates are 1-2), and the higher the rate, the more aggressive the tumor. The pathology report should state if the margins were clean, and usually how large they were. More than 1-2 cm of "clean" tissue is pretty good. Less than 1 cm is a little close. If the margins were dirty, or were small (<1 cm) you would be safer to have the area recut. As you stated, at this point if you are thinking about more surgery you probably should have chest X-rays taken, because if there is gross metastasis in the lungs then removing more tissue is a waste of time. If there is any gross metastasis, your dog may be a good candidate for the melanoma vaccine, assuming that you can find an oncologist in your area (there aren't many and they tend to be in the very large cities or at the vet schools). Good luck!
 
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