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Old 03-06-2020, 10:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Cancer diagnosis

My hedgie Leila has been through the ringer over the last year. She started out with a ridiculous infection, possibly a tooth but I suspect it was possibly a super worm bite (no more super worms for her either way!). 2 months of antibiotics and syringe feeding later, her weight was up and she was cleared as completely recovered. Two weeks ago, I had a small mass removed from her chest. I took her in when I noticed one of her nipples was about 4 times the normal size. Turns out it was a spindle cell sarcoma. She is doing fabulously post-surgery (besides anointing with 90% of her Bactrim) and is overall indifferent to what I put her through at the vet. The vet told me today that the edges were clear, I found it early, and she and the oncologist she consulted are optimistic. We go in next week for a follow up. Are there any questions I should ask or any steps I should take? I don’t think doing a CT would be particularly great for either of us at this point (her because she’s already been under anesthesia twice in a short period this year, me because knowing something is there isn’t always best). My main plan moving forward is to act as normal: spend my nights with her as always and call the vet when anything seems off. Anyhow, I’d love any advice anyone has, any specific signs to look for for progression other than general malaise, etc. Thanks!
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Old 03-07-2020, 08:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Questions I tend to ask are about how the cancer itself behaves. Does it tend to spread all over, or just grow in one place. Other than just normal routine, we continue to give "rub downs" feeling around for new growths, feeling around in the lymph node areas for swellings, etc.

Other than that, enjoy the extra time you get with her.

Quick reaction/removal of tumors are often the only way we can combat cancer in these little ones. Getting it early, getting clean margins are really the only chance we get at a cure. Be proactive and monitor for lumps and bumps, and don't "wait and see" if it grows or goes away. These are the best tools we have to combat cancer.

I have had spindle cell show up in a hedgehog once but his margins were not clear. We were told by one of the oncologists we saw at the veterinary hospital that spindle cells tended to react to cutting/damage/healing often by growing fast & much larger. We definitely saw that as it tripled in size after he scratched it one night causing it to bleed.
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Old 03-08-2020, 11:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you! The vet seemed surprised it was spindle cell for that reason. We took a fine needle aspirate of it a couple weeks prior in the hopes that that would give some indication of infection and we could treat accordingly. It actually got a little smaller after that (the end had been filled with blood, so it was quite swollen). It may have not grown rapidly due to the meloxicam I requested after the FNA to relieve the tenderness around it. I’ve read meloxicam can slow the growth of some tumors. I’m going to get confirmation that the margins were clear for sure and ask about particular areas of interest to monitor. She isn’t an idle girl, so it isn’t always easy to check her out closely, but I will absolutely be vigilant. I’ve read a bit about the tumors being on stalks as well, which can lead to a more aggressive spread. I’m also likely going to set up a camera so I can watch her nightly routine in case behaviors start to change. I think that would help keep everything calm and normal for her so I can monitor without causing her any extra stress. I will definitely ask about disease progression.
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Old 03-09-2020, 09:16 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Keep me updated with what your doc says. My experience with the SCS is from quite a while back. While there really doesn't seem to be much that changes in how we approach cancer in hedgehogs, I do like to hear what vets have to say in case there is something new that can help another hedgehog in the future.

With Riley the SCS grew fast at first then slowed down. His started in his eyelid, & was removed. It had sent a tentacle out to his neck. Two months after the first was removed the tentacle grew. He lived 3 more months with the tumor growing outward mostly. His behavior was normal for the most part. Active, eating well, etc. He did lose a lot of weight, but the scale showed weight gain as the tumor grew in size (something to look out for, scales sometime lie).
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Old 03-11-2020, 04:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
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We went to the vet today. The histology report said full excision (clean margins), with a small tumor and fibrous stalk removed. The oncologist and vet both feel that anything additional at this time would be unnecessary based on how small the original mass was. Of course, there could be something internal, but the oncologist felt that with her recent clean CT and normal behavior, a CT now isn’t needed. I asked about any sort of long term meloxicam, but the vet doesn’t want to treat with that until we need to (either for pain or to slow down a known tumor). So for now the plan is to monitor for any new growths and any behavioral changes. I think we were very fortunate that it was so small and in such a clear area. If she looks at me funny, though, she’s getting a CT. I’m not going to “wait and see” on anything abnormal for her!
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Old 03-12-2020, 10:17 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Excellent news and you sound like me. In all the places I've had tumors removed from hedgehogs, I always prefer those in that area. Lots of skin to get clean margins around.
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