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Old 06-20-2014, 11:29 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Possible Oral Cancer - What do I do?

I've never posted before , so I am sorry this isn't a happy one.

On Monday, I discovered our hedgehog, Doris had developed a lump on her lower jaw, its between her teeth and the lip. I got her to the vet on Wednesday and she has given us antibiotics in case its an abscess. She also suggested that it could be a cyst or a tumour so we should wait and see and then do something if anything changes. I realise that it is most likely not an abscess but probably a tumour. Wednesday was not a good day for me.

Doris has been to the vets about three times in her life and all the vets adore her but they admit they have almost no experience with hedgehogs (we live in rural Scotland) and on Wednesday, the vet stated that operating on her would be problematic as she is so small, and they have no real experience with hedgehogs and operating on her mouth while keeping her under would even more difficult.

I have turned into a bit of a mess since finding out (I actually thought it would be my girlfriend that would fall apart) and am looking for any chance of keeping her in a good standard of health for as long as possible. At the minute she is acting normally but her food has to be soaked to become soggy for her to eat. She's eating normally and is running on her wheel and pooping like the little poop machine she is. She is also getting all the mealies she wants now and she is her usual mealworm Goddess of Destruction.

I feel helpless, what can I do to be more proactive? Searching forums just brings up lots of tragic stories that are heart breaking to read. Any help would be appreciated.

I am really sorry for appearing to be such a big wuss but I have grown horribly attached to Doris.
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Old 06-20-2014, 01:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The vet could do a fine needle aspiration of the lump. They stick a fine needle into the lump and draw off whatever is inside and send it away for testing. Sometimes they can do in house testing and it would show if it's infection or something else. Once you find out exactly what it is, then there are options.

An abscess may not go away with antibiotics alone. Surgically cleaning it out is often necessary. I've had ones that had abscesses cleaned out while I watched during an office visit. What they have done is held the little mask close to the face while the vet worked on the abscess. If hedgie seemed to be coming around, they'd stop for a few seconds and put it over their face again.

Is the lump soft or hard? If soft, there is more chance it might not be a tumour. I'd get the FNA done and go from there.

Do you have any photos of inside her mouth?
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Old 06-20-2014, 02:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Doris is not the most co-operative when it comes to looking in her mouth. She's a lot stronger than she looks. So at the minute we have no photos. We were able to get a good look at the vets - it took the vet with two cotton buds coaxing her mouth open and me holding her to get a look. The mass is pink (not red or inflamed looking) and similar in tone to the rest of her mouth and it is soft and fleshy but it is big enough to make her look like Marlon Brando. It's about pea sized.

We've got a double appointment for next week and I will ask the vet to perform a needle aspiration. I assume that the sample will have to be sent off to a lab for analysis (I doubt vets get training in oncology or maybe they do). How long does it normally take to get a result?

In addition, as of when I got home from work today, the lump doesn't appear to have increased in size; I don't know whether to read anything into that.
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Old 06-20-2014, 02:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Can your vet refer you to someone who has more experience or training with hedgehogs? I live in a small town and I have to drive 45 minutes to get to a vet that works with hedgehogs.
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