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Old 08-28-2014, 05:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Oral Tumor Advice Needed

Hey everyone, I am looking for the advice of some experienced hedgehog owners. My husband and I have 2 hedgehogs, and our eldest hedgehog is 3 and a half years old. These are our first hedgehogs so we're not too experienced yet. About 2.5 weeks ago, overnight basically, our little hedgie developed a mass on the side of her upper jaw, and we got her into the vet the next day. They thought it was an abscess at first and we did antibiotics for 2 weeks, but it got worse. Today she was diagnosed with a tumor of the gums, and her jaw is sticking out pretty considerably. She is active, eating, and playing though very well.

My question is, does anyone here have experience with these types of tumors and surgical options? I've been doing some research online and it looks like (I may be wrong which is why I'm here) that surgical procedures to remove tumors of the upper jaw and gums do not seem to prolong their lifespans measurably, and seem to cause more pain than good. I also read that 85% of tumors are malignant in hedgehogs. We don't know if hers is or not yet, but the reading I was doing online said oral ones are almost always cancerous.

Is this accurate information or is surgery a good option for treating these? We love our little hedgie (Nisha) to pieces, and while I want to run headlong into surgery for her, I also am tempered by the fact that I worked in hospice for years, and heard so many people verbalize that the procedures they had trying to cure them were more painful and caused more harm than good, and they wished their families would have just let them die sooner, with a higher quality of life during it. So...does surgery for them really help or is it something that should be avoided due to the pain it would cause them, without any real benefit?

Detail wise: Tumor is in the upper jaw, very noticeable.
Nisha is still happy and active, and her eating and drinking is fine.
Tumor is bleeding a bit at times.
Since these spread to other parts of them so quickly, given the size of it, I'm not overly optimistic that it hasn't already spread.

Thank you for anyone who has advice on this.
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Old 08-28-2014, 09:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I would recommend that you PM Nancy, who is experienced with this sort of thing on the boards here. I am very sorry you are dealing with this. I had a hedgehog with mammary cancer and I had surgery done on her 2x. I believe it was worth it but it was a different situation altogether. I hope someone knowledgeable will write you back soon. Best of luck in your decision as to what to do.
-Susan H.
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Old 08-28-2014, 09:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm sure Nancy will have much more helpful advice if you PM her or if she sees this. But from what I've read from her and Kalandra, unfortunately oral tumors are some of the worst. They grow quickly, they tend to grow back after surgery, and they can quickly get very bad. I think the information you found sounds pretty accurate from what I've read on here. It may be a better idea to manage her pain & other symptoms and keep a close eye on her quality of life for now. I'm so sorry you're dealing with this decision. Sending good thoughts to you, your husband, and little Nisha.
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Old 08-28-2014, 09:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm sorry you and she are having to go through this. Oral tumours are horrible and grow so quickly that usually by the time we notice it is already past the point of doing anything. Sometimes I think we can see them growing. Upper is usually worst because it can be growing inward before it shows on the outside. I've had many here that we through were quite small, until hedgie was gassed and we looked in their mouth.

With an upper tumour, it can start to push their eye out, or invade into the roof of their mouth, nasal cavity or brain. All the while, hedgie eats and acts perfectly normal. It is very difficult to make the final decision when hedgie is active and seems to be still enjoying life. At any time that tumour could reach an area that causes horrific symptoms so, it's a case of not waiting too long. It's a very hard decision and I've been there way too many times.
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Old 08-28-2014, 10:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thank you so much everyone for the kind words and advice. We were afraid that by the time it was noticeable, like with many cancers, it had probably spread. So basically hedgehogs mask pain extremely well it sounds like then? I was wondering how she was eating so well tonight (we watched a movie and she was super cuddly) with the side of her mouth bulging like that.

I'm so sorry for your hedgies, Nancy and Susan, that you have seen go through that, and for anyone else who has gone through this.
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