By Dr. H.V. Deepak
Mysore/Mysuru: Caesar, a 12-year-old male English Bull Dog owned by Neethi Nair, a resident of Vijayanagar, was brought to Shree Pet Clinic with a complaint of having a mass on its lower lip which was bleeding on and off.
A sample was sent to histopathology (study of signs of the disease using microscopic examination of a biopsy or surgical specimen that is processed and fixed onto glass slides) in Bengaluru and the report came out as Squamous Cell Carcinoma, a type of malignant cancer of oral cavity. Malignant cancer, being a malignant tumour, has every chance of spreading to other organs and hence further evaluation was done.
An abdominal radiograph confirmed the presence of another large tumour in the pet’s stomach. Further deliberation was made with an oncologist from Mumbai to finalise the treatment options.
The facts of the case were that Caesar is a 12-year-old, cardiac patient under treatment for valvular insufficiency and cancer cells had already spread to the stomach ruling out surgical removal and radiation therapy. Chances of recovery were less despite chemotherapy and the chances of recurrence were also positive.
Also, the side effects of chemotherapy at this age would be horrible for Caesar to bear and as cancer was in its advanced stage, a decision was taken along with Neethi Nair not to proceed with further treatment and indulge only in palliative care to keep Caesar happy and comfortable as long as he can fight cancer on his own.
Dogs, cats, cows, birds and even exotic pets do suffer from different types of cancers like humans and pet owners should not neglect or delay taking their pet to a veterinarian if any visible mass or tumour-like growth is found.
Treatment options that humans have — chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery — do exist for animals too and cancer can be cured only if it is detected in its early stages. Pet owners should get regular health check-ups done for their pets at least once in six months.