At HRVSS, we certainly remove many masses.
Often, patients are referred by their family vet to remove a “cancerous” mass, in the belly, under the skin, or in a number of other areas.
Unless a biopsy has been performed, I always call these “masses” more objectively: they are tumors, or masses, until proven otherwise by a pathologist staring through a microscope.
Here are stories about 4 recent patients:
Remi and the Cancerous Liver Mass
Remi, an 11 year old Lab, had an ultrasound that showed a “cancerous mass” in her liver.
In surgery, the mass was in an unusual location of the liver, and it was attached to the vena cava, a huge vein that drains the back end of the body toward the heart. It was a tough surgery.
A week later, the biopsy result of the “cancerous mass” came back as an adenoma, a perfectly benign mass. Remi is now expected to have a normal quality of life and a normal life expectancy.
Tobey and the Cancerous Skin Mass
Tobey, a 12 year old Lab, had a large mass under the skin along the sternum (breastbone). A needle test had shown a mast cell tumor, a common type of skin cancer.
A week later, the biopsy result of the “cancerous mass” came back as a lipoma, a perfectly benign fatty tumor.
Tobey is now expected to have a normal quality of life and a normal life expectancy.
Moose and the Cancerous Penis Mass
Moose, a 12 year old Pitbull, had a mass at the tip of his penis. Rather than sacrificing the entire penis (yep, it can be done, and it typically works very well), I decided to only remove the tip.
I’m glad I did, since a week later, the biopsy result of the “cancerous mass” came back as a fibro-papilloma, which is a perfectly benign mass, similar to a wart.
Moose is now expected to have a normal quality of life and a normal life expectancy.
Henry and the Cancerous Skin Mass
Henry, a 10 year old Cavalier King Charles, had a really ugly ruptured mass over his right hip. (“Ugly” is code for cancerous in our field).
The mass was removed and a week later, the biopsy result of the “cancerous mass” came back as a ruptured epithelioma, which is a perfectly benign tumor of the skin.
Henry is now expected to have a normal quality of life and a normal life expectancy.
All 4 dogs were over 10 years old. All 4 were deemed to have a cancerous tumor. Yet their dedicated owners, all willing to give their pet a fighting chance, chose to give them the gift of surgery, even though everybody “knew” it was cancer.
Of course, I am perfectly aware that these tumors could just as well have been cancer. The point is, we don’t know until the mass has been reviewed by a pathologist.
These pet lovers didn’t assume anything, and all were rewarded with the best gift ever: the gift of life.
View part 2 here.
Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified