Cancer found in one of our very own dogs

By: Dr. Ryan Downs from Oswego Animal Hospital

This case study is near and dear to my heart as it is about my own dog. Rylie is a 8 ½ year old female spayed Catahoula Leopard dog. While putting on her gentle leader I noticed a small mass on the right side of her neck. There were no clinical symptoms except for a slight decrease in appetite and weight loss over a 6 month period that I attributed to the new baby. Upon further physical examination it was noted that her trachea was deviated slightly to the right. No other abnormalities were found on physical.

Radiographs confirmed a slight deviation of the trachea to the right side but no obvious soft tissue mass was seen and thoracic radiographs did not show any masses in the lung fields. An ultrasound of the neck unfortunately revealed a large unilateral calcified mass on the left side of the neck in the region where the left thyroid gland resides which was consistent with a thyroid carcinoma. Blood work was all within normal limits.

I decided to take Rylie to the Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center downtown to have a surgical consult. A CT was done and revealed that the cancer had metastasized to the lungs but were too small to see on regular radiographs. Unfortunately this ruled out surgical excision of the mass. I consulted with the oncology department and discussed pursuing radiation therapy +/- oral chemotherapy. I elected to pursue palliative treatment after further discussion with my husband. Rylie went through 4 rounds of radiation therapy (1 treatment every week for 4 treatments). She did very well throughout her treatment and has begun her oral chemotherapy at home. At her 8 week follow up appointment with the oncologist her mass measured about a third of the original size and would continue to shrink to about half its original size. She has since put on weight and began eating well again. There are still days that her appetite is not as good but overall she is acting like herself which was my goal.