Anyway, my dilemma: Do I surgically remove the lumps? Winnie is now "geriatric," coming up on 6 years old, although she's always been pretty healthy and recovered GREAT from her spay (back at age 2 or 3). I've heard piggies do pretty well with mammary mass removal, I guess since it's not a very deep, invasive surgery. So I'm tempted to go for it. But anesthesia is always a risk, and more so in older pigs. Plus recovery from any surgery can be tough in terms of getting them to eat again, keeping suture site clean, pain meds and ABs, etc. I wonder how much the surgery would extend her life or improve the quality of her life, which is just fine so far -- even with the lumps. And I'd hate to shorten her life by trying to fix a problem that, right now, is not really a problem for her (she's acting exactly the same as pre-lumps).
I feel I may be opening Pandora's Box, whereas the alternative is to just monitor things carefully and, if necessary, end her suffering if things take a downward turn (which is always the plan with my piggies). Let her live out the rest of her life as well as possible; I figure she may have only another 6 months left anyway, at best. (Yes, I know there are some lucky piggies who live to be 7 or 8.)
Have folks generally had success with surgery on 6-yr-old pigs? And would it be safer to just remove the big lump and leave the smaller one under her other nipple -- to reduce time under anesthesia, post-op pain, risk of infection? Also, for mammary tumors, are there any options besides surgery versus no surgery? Might hormone treatments slow the growth of the masses?
I'm definitely saddened by this sudden discovery/problem and not thinking particularly clearly. Any thoughts are much appreciated. Thanks in advance.
It may be worth your while to ask your vet for his/her thoughts.
Would love to know that lots -- okay, maybe at least several -- older piggies have done okay with surgery... anyone? Or else, are there other options for managing Winnie's life/happiness if we don't go through with mass removal? How fast do mammary tumors progress? Do they cause pain? Do they affect digestion, respiration, urinary function at some point? Any way to slow their growth? I wonder what kind of time table she's on with the masses, because her remaining time may be short anyway.
I'm trying to envision both scenarios and then weigh the two options (unless there are some other options to consider). My sense is that best case and worst case may not be that far apart. Any more thoughts?
- Let Sleeping Pigs Lie
- My home, ruled by pigs!
I know it's a hard decision but if it is cancer there isn't much that can be done. So, I don't think you'd be making a bad decision leaving well enough alone.
I do remember the vet said to keep an eye on it to see if it got bigger.
GP Lover, did your Elsie's tumor grow throughout those 3 years? I'm guessing not much; sounds like she wasn't affected much by having it.
Winnie's masses seem to be getting bigger and/or multiplying somewhat quickly, but maybe that will level off. Certainly I will monitor for a short while, as I try to decide. But if I take a wait-n-see approach re: surgery, Winnie becomes even older and at greater risk for surgery.
Good to know many do quite well with the removal, though.
Honestly, my gut feeling is that Winnie would likely do okay with the surgery and afterward, yet I kinda feel maybe that's the case without surgery, too! It's not a money issue (though that's tight), and I'm certainly willing to endure the emotions and post-op care necessary. Think I'm struggling because I'm not sure what's to be gained with the surgery -- the remainder of her life may end up worse and not better (or the same).
I guess there's no way to know ahead of time. But gosh, I've never been in a piggy situation where either course will be okay and perhaps I should just flip a coin! And now that I've written that, maybe it's a good scenario and I shouldn't be so stressed out. I'm feeling okay that Winnie's had a good, full life already and am accepting the fact that I'll likely say goodbye soon no matter how you slice it (pardon the pun!).
Thanks for helping me to sort this out. (Still haven't decided.)
- My home, ruled by pigs!
I do not recall that it grew.
The spot you're in is a tough one...but the average lifespan of our guinea pigs is probably more like 4-5 so making it to 6 is wonderful. I can understand why you would choose not to do surgery. She can end up in bad shape or worse make it through surgery itself but not recover.
It might help to get a second opinion at this point to help you make the decision that's right for you.
I am just watching it to make sure it doesn't break open and start bleeding or anything. So far my Angel is feeling fine, and eating well.
I am likely going to spare Winnie the surgery -- I think we won't be gaining that much to remove the masses (given Winnie's age) and would perhaps diminish her quality of life in the process (since she's fine now and may not be afterward). With either scenario she doesn't have a whole lot of time left, so I'm just gonna love her to pieces for the remainder and, as is always the plan, end her suffering if it comes to that for any reason.
Of course, given that I freaked out about Winnie's sister over the weekend (fearing obstruction) and just spent $270 for some peace of mind there, all piggy strategies are subject to revision at a moment's notice!
If there is metastasis, it doesn't always show on a basic scan, and once the person is opened, the practitioner can see how much things have spread or if other areas look precancerous. The person may have complications / or a hard time recovering for whatever reason.
If CA was spread my air hitting it, the human population would be long gone!
CA cells travel via blood vessels and the lymphatic system. Cells are microscopic and it takes quite a few of them to be detected on a CT scan. In that time, the itty bitty cells can travel if they want, as they grow and multiply.