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Old 01-13-2015, 11:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help! I am scared...

Hello everyone,
I took my little rescue girl, Sola, who I have had for a year now to the vet yesterday because she had not eaten a couple of nights in a row. She had an abcessed tooth removed a couple of months ago, so I just figured she had another tooth problem. I was shocked to find out that now she has developed a fairly large tumor in the upper part of her mouth! Thankfully it is confined to only one side for now, but it had actually pushed out a tooth and two others were no longer connected to the bone so we had them pulled. I know this is a very bad situation as I have read accounts of oral tumors over the years. The vet wants to start her on ApoCaps as soon as she has healed enough (this Friday night or Sat. morning). Have any of you used ApoCaps to treat a squamous cell carcinoma? which is what he is assuming it is. In the case it is mast cell he is also having me give her Benadryl. She is on Tramadol for pain and antibiotics of course. She has been eating since I have been wetting her food to the point it is mushy and I've been giving her lots of wax worms. I feel like I have been run over by a truck. I was completely blindsided by this as she had nothing of the sort 2 months ago when she was last seen.
Any info. on ApoCaps would be greatly appreciated.
-Susan & Sola ( I call her Tiny Soli)
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Old 01-13-2015, 11:15 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm so sorry Susan. These %*#&%(# oral tumours come out of nowhere.

I've never used ApoCaps. Most of the tumours here have been past the point of no return once it was discovered.

I suggest talking with Kalandra. Try emailing her rather than a pm as she hasn't been on here much lately. Actually, I'll email her and ask her to check out this thread.

Hugs
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Old 01-13-2015, 11:23 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the quick reply Nancy. Unfortunately the tumor appears to have originated in the jaw and cannot be surgically removed without doing some crazy things - including removing part of the sinus cavity. I have no interest in anything that disfiguring and horrible, so we are going to try these ApoCaps. Apparently, they have in some cases, shrunken the tumor substantially and given the animals 8 more months or so before the tumor returning. However, I know that it may be too late. I just wish I had known about it earlier, but barring taking your hedgehog to the vet every other week, how would you catch something like this at an "early" stage? For now she is doing very well and seems otherwise "normal" so I am not ready to throw in the towel just yet....I just wish she could talk to me and tell me what she is thinking and feeling! I am trying to look at the signs and signals that she gives me. She is such a pretty and graceful little thing. She does not deserve this! She is, however, 4.25 years old and I know that these things happen. I just feel so bad and I don't know if I did something wrong in caring for her that could have prevented this!
-Susan H.
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Old 01-13-2015, 11:50 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I've only done two surgeries for oral tumours. Both lower. IMO lower is a better location. We often discover lower tumours much sooner. Upper tumours are more difficult to catch and they can be growing upwards into the nasal cavity or eye, well before anything is noticeable from the outside.

I would be hesitant to do surgery on an upper tumour unless it was very tiny and no evidence of having spread into the jaw or upwards. IMO, this is almost always a case of quality of life without surgery rather than a painful and disfiguring surgery that might offer an extra month or two.

Some hedgehogs can become co-operative about mouth checks. Syringe feeding as a treat also gives us a reasonably good look into their mouth. Being at eye level as they are eating or yawning can sometimes show red areas in their mouths.

You did nothing to cause this so don't beat yourself up over it. Oral tumours are very common.

Hugs
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Old 01-13-2015, 02:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Oral tumors in the upper mouth are some of the worst. They tend to grow quickly and eventually push on the eye. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this.

You may never have been able to have detect this early enough to stop it. I've had hedgehogs that I was monitoring daily for recurrence of cancer go from undetectable to too large to remove over night. Sometimes they just show up that quickly. And sometimes its just in a place that you cannot remove it without killing the hedgehog or causing them so much pain and suffering to make it worth it.

I have not used apocaps, but I have researched it and it is definitely on the give it a try list. The worst thing I have heard about it is to be careful in the amount as it can cause diarrhea. I believe you know who Elaine is, if you haven't already ask her about them. Davy took them.

Also ask your vet about piroxicam. It is a NSAID so would replace the other pain killer, but there are studies that have shown some positive response from this medication in regards to SCC. I have used it and know of several others who have used it with hedgehogs. Whether it slowed the cancer down, I don’t know but it certainly didn’t hurt.

I’m not a fan of surgery in the mouth when the tumor is large. I have had a couple successfully excised, but they were small and didn’t involve bone.

Your vets comment about mast cell cancer has me curious though. Does doc think that doing a biopsy to determine what type of cancer to be beneficial or not? I ask because I had a hedgehog live a very long time with a mast cell cancer. You can probably do some searches for Rose & Mast cell cancer and find information about what we did. A quick run down:

Tumor originated on the skin next to her eye(removed), and later came back in her neck (removed)and then deeper in her neck(not removable). We gave her Benadryl (antihistamine) and cimetidine/tagamet (histamine blocker)daily, both of these help slow the growth. In the late stages we tried something new as a last effort to shrink the tumor, and that was injecting triamcinolone directly into the tumor. Triamcinolone is a long lasting steroid (3 weeks) and I couldn't find any mention of it being used with a hedgehog before. Her tumor shrank dramatically, and quickly. Sadly it was too large by the time we tried it and she passed on anyway. If I encountered another MCC I would ask doc about trying it again but much earlier on.

Please know you are not alone. I've dealt with more cancer and types of cancer than I care to admit with these little ones. Its heart breaking, but you didn't cause this. I've come to realize that if you keep hedgehogs it isn't a matter of if they will get cancer, but when, and how you react to it.
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Old 01-13-2015, 02:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The experts have already jumped in here, I just wanted to send a hug & say I'm sorry to hear about your bad news with poor Sola. Fingers crossed that the medication will keep her comfortable and give you more time with her. She's lucky to have you, and we know you'll do everything you can for her. Tumors are the worst! I'll keep sending you guys good thoughts. <3
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Old 01-14-2015, 02:18 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I just wanted to add that you will be in my thoughts. I am sorry you and Sola have to go through this.

I wonder if we'll ever know what causes our hedgies to be so prone to tumors and cancer.

I see the Hedgehog Welfare is doing research about mouth tumors/cancer. I hope they can have answers soon.
Hugs.
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Old 01-14-2015, 04:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone. Sola seems to be doing fine at the moment and was her normal self last night. Of course she doesn't like antibiotics, etc. but she is eating normally and drinking, etc. etc. We will start the ApoCaps this weekend and I will hope for the best that they along w/ the Benadryl work. I did not get a biopsy done, but may do it if she is still doing OK 2 weeks from now when we take her back to the vet.
Please keep her in your thoughts!
Susan H.
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Old 02-11-2015, 06:17 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Today was a very sad day for us because we lost our family member, little Soli. Almost a month to the day after her diagnosis we decided to help her cross the Rainbow Bridge. Her tumor was a high grade squamous cell carcinoma of the upper jaw (maxillary). She still had a good appetite and was running in her wheel but her pain meds often made her very sleepy and last Sunday night the tumor ulcerated and caused a lot of bleeding. Today we took her in to the vet and we looked in her mouth. The tumor had grown by 50% in two weeks. It was so difficult because she still very much had the will to live but we wanted her to have some dignity and we were worried that the tumor would hemorrhage again and could become infected. We think she was scratching at her face when that happened. At least now she is in a better place but we will miss her terribly.
-Susan H.
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Old 02-11-2015, 06:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I'm so sorry Susan. Sending you big hugs.
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