6-yr-old with mammary lumps

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Tracy

Post   » Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:31 pm


UGH. Recently found a wart-like lump on my Winnie's side (mid-body), which seems like maybe just a fatty deposit or subcutaneous cyst. But that led me to palpate her a bit more carefully all over, and then I felt a lump beneath one of her nipples. About a week later, the mammary lump felt like maybe two under the same nipple, or else the one had grown larger and more irregular. Then I thought I felt a smaller one under her other nipple, at which point we went off to the vet for all lumps to be assessed. We decided not to do tests to identify the nipple lumps... after all, bottom line is they shouldn't be there. Most likely mammary tumors, which apparently are more common in males.

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.

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rshevin

Post   » Sun Oct 19, 2008 5:08 pm


Well, you seem to be seeing both options about as well as I can. Guinea pigs typically DO do well with mammary surgeries and if cancerous, they are often contained and prognosis is good. However she is older and you are right to have concerns there.

It may be worth your while to ask your vet for his/her thoughts.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Sun Oct 19, 2008 5:59 pm


Ditto Rshevin. These sorts of surgery are not as invasive. If you have a skilled, experienced vet, it would likely go well and you would have a fairly easy recovery.

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Tracy

Post   » Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:10 pm


Thanks for your responses thus far. My vet agrees its a tough decision, and I realize nobody can make it except me.

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?

Tracis
Let Sleeping Pigs Lie

Post   » Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:01 am


I'm sorry that Winnie has a tumor. She is very fortunate to have you caring for her.

Here are a few threads that might be of interest:

Misha, age 6

Peanut, age 5

Pinky, age 3
Pinky had a fast-growing mammary tumor

Nick, age 4

Tofu

http://www.guinealynx.info/tumor_mammary.html

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cavykatie

Post   » Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:44 am


Tracy, I'm sorry to hear about Winnie's tumor. I'm sending healing thoughts her way.

GP Lover
My home, ruled by pigs!

Post   » Tue Oct 21, 2008 7:19 am


When Elsie had a mammary tumor I think she was 4yrs old. The vet showed me in her manual that only 30% of them are found to be cancerous. So, I chose to leave it alone and she was fine...lived to be 7yrs and 4mths.

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.

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Tracy

Post   » Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:19 am


tracis, thanks for those links; sometimes there's just so much info to comb through in the Medical Forum!

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.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Tue Oct 21, 2008 10:10 am


It does sound like it needs to be removed. Your vet has done this type of surgery, no? I would hope your vet could reassure you regarding their surgical experience with guinea pigs.

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Tracy

Post   » Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:14 am


I asked whether mass removal is considered a "procedure" or "surgery" -- the former is done by my exotics vet with exotic techs; the latter gets done by the hospital's surgeons and surgical techs. Would be surgery, and the hospital's surgeons are experienced. The exotics staff handles pre- and post-op. I'm comfortable with their knowledge/expertise (it's one of top animal hospitals in the U.S.); I'm mostly weighing the risks of removal versus no removal for a 6-yr-old piggy.

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.)

GP Lover
My home, ruled by pigs!

Post   » Thu Oct 23, 2008 9:09 pm


"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. "

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.

UP Lisa

Post   » Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:07 am


Right now I have a 5 year old girl with a mammary tumor that is quite large. My vet and I decided not to put her through surgery. In my vet's experience, if it is cancer, it would grow like crazy after she was opened up (my vet has 30 years' experience with GPs).

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.

Lisa

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Kermie831

Post   » Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:10 am


Why would it grow like crazy once she is opened up?

UP Lisa

Post   » Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:16 am


Well, cancer can do that. I know it happens with people, too. It's like when the air gets in there, it just grows faster.

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Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Tue Oct 28, 2008 4:54 pm


Hmmm. Our experience here is that most mammary tumors are not cancerous and that it would definitely be worthwhile to have the tumor removed.

http://www.guinealynx.info/tumor_mammary.html

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Tracy

Post   » Tue Oct 28, 2008 5:43 pm


That's interesting, Lisa.

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!

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Kermie831

Post   » Tue Oct 28, 2008 7:34 pm


That is typically an old belief.

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!

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mmeadow
Supporter 2004-2021

Post   » Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:29 pm


You're such a great pig whisperer, Tracy, I believe you can trust your instincts about what's best for Winnie.

Interesting inside info about procedures vs. surgery.

It also sounds like it's time for you to update Inca's thread.

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Kermie831

Post   » Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:04 pm


I apologize for seeming like a jerk, I didn't mean to snip. and I didn't comment on the little one and wish her the best. :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metastasis

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.

Erin8607
Knee Deep

Post   » Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:31 pm


I just had a 5 1/2 year old boar have a mamory tumor removed today, he did fantastic.

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