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Ellie Has Tumors

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Catie Cavy

Supporter 2011-2017
My Ellie Pig has tumors. She is 6-1/2. She had lost a few ounces over the past few months so I gave her a thorough once over at her last weigh in and found a lump on her throat. I took her to the vet today who aspirated it and said it is a tumor. Ellie also has another lump which is probably ovarian. She had the ovarian lump last time I took her to the vet but it was smaller then. I forget why I didnít check it out further at that time. I might have been in denial because the vet said she thought she felt something but wasnít sure or it might have been because she said the treatment would be a spay. I am very wary of spays having lost a 3-year-old guinea pig to spay surgery.

The vet said my only option is surgery. She took a tissue sample but I elected not to have it sent to a pathologist since the treatment would be surgery whether it was malignant or benign. The vet was fairly confident in her surgical skills but did say anesthesia is always a risk. Ellie did have two previous abscess surgeries and came through with flying colors (but she was much younger at the time). Even if I did elect to have the throat tumor removed, there is still the ovarian issue and I canít imagine putting a 6-1/2 year old guinea pig through a spay.

Ellie Pig is the sweetest guinea pig ever and is my absolute favorite. I was hoping she would be one of those lucky pigs who live to be 10 or more.

Iím leaning toward not having the surgery but feel terrible. Any thoughts?
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Cleaning Lady You can quote me
My immediate gut reaction is to make the same decision you have, that is to keep her as comfortable, happy and well-fed as you can for whatever good time she has left.

If, however, the throat lump is reachable and relatively easily removable, I'd consider the surgery for that and not worry about anything ovarian.

You might want to ask your vet about sending another sample of the throat lump off for pathology. There may be other (nonsurgical) treatments available for it depending on what it is. Hormone injections for ovarian problems are IMO also worth an ask. Is the ovarian problem a cyst or an outright lump, or do we know?

Regardless of age, is her overall health, thrift and weight good?
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First, sorry about the news Catie. I'm kinda with Talishan on this.

But was the untested tissue sample from her throat lump? If it's a thyroid mass (which might explain the weight loss), surgery is not the only option. A T-4 blood test can (sometimes) detect hyperthyroid, and there's a medicine (tapazole) that you can give for the rest of Ellie's life to slow down weight loss from a thyroid problem. That said, if throat lump is something else, I might consider surgery for removal if not too invasive (deep) and if you have an experienced, competent surgeon. I would probably skip the spay, too, but would ask about trying hormone injections. Just curious: Was the ovarian cyst (sounds like that's what vet thinks) diagnosed with an ultrasound or just palpation where doc wasn't quite sure?

I also want to say that I discovered lumps (mammary) on my Winnie at age 6 and opted against surgery due to her age. Now she's 7 yrs and 7 months! I look back and think she may have done fine with surgery (since she did great after her spay when she was younger) and may have also been one of those lucky 10-yr-old pigs. But I do not regret my decision since we've had a good outcome and she's had a full, happy life (whenever her body finally gives out). I just tell you this because, with or without surgery (and certainly without definite bad-news diagnoses), we just don't know how long they'll live. So don't be too sad prematurely if she still seems OK and has good quality of life.

Good luck, and keep us posted!
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Catie Cavy

Supporter 2011-2017
Thanks so much for your kind words and advice. It means a lot to me. I assumed Ellie had an abscess (as difficult as those can be). I feel stunned and lost to learn she has tumors.

The vet just palpated the ovarian mass and said she thought it was either an ovarian cyst or a tumor. She was pretty sure it was ovarian but thought there was a small possibility it was a kidney tumor. We mostly discussed the throat tumor at this last visit. She did offer an ultrasound for the ovarian lump at the previous visit but at this visit she said surgery would be the only option.

Iím not sure about her overall health. Her activity level seems the same, she appears to be eating well, and she seems happy. Sheís always been a quiet pig who likes to spend most of her time in her pigloo (to the point that Iíve even wondered if she was a heart pig but I donít think she is). She weighs 2 lbs but seems thin and bony. Iím going to be taking her out of her cage to feed her extra veggies and anything else I can think of to try to fatten her up. Ellie does have mushy poops which sheís had for years following an injectable antibiotic (Fortaz) she was given after her second abscess surgery. I tried a half dozen things for it and then gave up. Her poops do seem very mushy now. I restarted her on Benebac yesterday. That helped before while she was on it, but her poops always returned to mush when I stopped it. I may try poop soup again. Is there a way to be sure Iím getting a good poop from her cagemate or do I just wait for her to poop and grab one?

I should say I havenít yet found a cavy vet that Iím 100% satisfied with. Iíve been using this current vet for the past few years. She was recommended by rabbit people. She seems very knowledgeable but I donít know about her surgical skills. Ellie was probably born around 11/1/93 so sheíll actually be 7 in 3 months which makes me even more hesitant to consider surgery. I can ask the vet about the possibility of it being thyroid and can ask about hormone injections. Should I have any diagnostics done on the ovarian lump? Would that make a difference in treatment?

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Whether or not you get surgery, I would talk to the vet about pain management, since tumors can be painful and impact quality of life.
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Since she may be even older than you thought, (personally) I wouldn't consider surgery unless you feel she's in very good health. I think a blood test helps to determine whether they're good surgical candidates (organ function and such), though sounds like you already suspected heart problems at some point. My vet anesthetizes for blood samples, which I don't like for older pigs, but maybe yours doesn't.

Also, if you're getting blood anyway (to assess her health for surgery), a T-4 blood test shouldn't cost too much more and may tell you about her neck lump -- plus maybe you can manage that without surgery (if a thyroid tumor).

An ultrasound to diagnose ovarian cysts would be mostly to confirm vet's suspicion. My sense is you don't want to just give hormone injections unless you're sure. But I'm not experienced with those injections since my ovarian cyst piggies were spayed. I've also read about piggies with ovarian cysts that didn't have any treatment and seemed fine.

I do think maybe you need a bit more info in order to weight the options -- sounds like "probably" stuff at this point, but knowing "this is what it is" helps with treatments. Good luck!
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Cleaning Lady You can quote me
Ditto Tracy's comments, especially her last paragraph above.

Ovarian cyst or ovarian tumor? Cysts might can be addressed by hormone injections. Tumors ... don't know if hormone therapy would help with those or not.

I'd want the U/S if it were me.
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