Sound familiar? Did this happen to anyone out there?
Removal of all the cancer cells from the body during surgery is pretty important. How can we tell?
The most important thing to do is get that biopsy report. Some don’t want the extra cost. “Just get it out” is a line I have heard from time to time. However, the report from the path lab can be absolutely critical.
Why does it matter? Well, there are a couple of reasons. First, the pathologist can evaluate the borders of the tissue I, or your vet/oncologist, submit after removal. This is called comprehensive margin evaluation.
This evaluation tells us if there are cancer cells still left in the dog or not, around the surgery site anyway. If there are cancer cells at the border of what gets turned in to the lab, there are probably some left in the dog.
So, if you get the path report back and there are cancer cells at the edge of the submitted specimen, it would be wise to go back in and remove more tissue. Yes, I am talking about a second surgery.
Some cancer types spread out around where the lump actually is resting. So the dog will have cancer cells around the tumor that you can’t see with the naked eye. Some examples are osteosarcoma, some mast cell tumors, squamous cell carcinoma, fibrosarcoma, hemangiopericytoma (nerve sheath tumor), some mammary cancers (inflammatory carcinomas especially), hemangiosarcoma, malignant melanoma, and more.
In these cases, sometimes a wide excision (removing more than what “looks like” the cancer at the time of surgery is the way to go. A fine needle aspirate or small biopsy before surgery can actually save cost in the end, by ascertaining whether a wide excision is needed before surgical removal.
Best to all,
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.