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Old 01-11-2009, 09:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Jan 2009
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Default oral mass

i got home from the vet today... it seems koko has an oral mass on the left side of her jaw. they took xrays and fortunately it has not penetrated the bone but shes not looking good. the mass rapidly developed (over a few days) and she now has a huge mass on the lip and inside of her mouth and what seems to be another growing opposite it on the top jaw. for now she is breathing and eating ok, but has stopped running on her wheel and taking pleasure in her normal activities. it doesn't seem painful but she is obviously distressed by it since she keeps licking it and "playing" with it. they will be calling me on tuesday to let me know what the oral surgery team has to say and get the test results back. our vet said that at best its benign and can be cut out using laser surgery but at worst its a squamous cell carcinoma and they may have to remove half her jaw. shes about 1 year old and it kills me to have to put her through something like that. im not sure what her quality of life will be post surgery. has anyone gone through this and have some input for us? would you put her through a jaw removal surgery? let it be and just try to make her as happy as possible or put her down (obviously as last resort)? im freaking out thinking about it.
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: oral mass

I would not do surgery. Oral surgeries rarely give enough time to make the pain of the surgery worth while. I have talked with many people about oral tumours and surgeries and it seems to be the general feeling that the surgery rarely provides more than a few months and in many cases, the cancer just grows that much faster.

The oral cancers we have had here have all grown very rapidly. Our first was Pagen and during the 3 days between discovery and our vet seeing him, the tumour tripled in size. Because he was still eating well and seemed normal and happy, I wanted to let him go on a while longer but my vet said that with the speed it was growing, at any time it could reach the painful point and what if that was at night or over the weekend when there was no vet to euthanize him. We didn't even wake him up and let him go right then.

The only one we have done surgery on was Elvira who was a rehome. She had a small tumour on her lower jaw and the vet felt she could remove it. Once doing the surgery, she discovered the tumour was more extensive than thought but removed as much as she could. Three weeks to the day later, we were back having her euthanized because the tumour grew with a vengeance after the surgery.

If she was mine, I'd love her and spoil her over the next few days and then help her cross.

I'm sorry you have to make this decision. It's extra hard with one so young.
* * * Nancy * * *

Retired from breeding

Rescue contact for both the Hedgehog Welfare Society and the IHA
Rescued over 70 (and counting) hedgehogs needing a new home

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Old 01-11-2009, 10:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: oral mass

I have not had to deal with cancer in hedgehogs yet, so I can't suggest any particular method for your little girl. Just love her and go with whatever will be the best for her.

I too am sorry you both have to go through this.

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Old 01-12-2009, 08:44 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: oral mass

Of all the cancers I have had to deal with in hedgehogs, oral squamous cell carsinoma are some of the worst. Not that any cancer is good, but some are less aggressive & you get better quality time for longer.

I've only had one oral tumor in my hedgehogs and it was a squamous cell carcinoma. It first appeared as a small pin head size dot on NeMali's gums. We had scheduled surgery to remove the dot since it was so small. By the time surgery day came up (was only about 2 days after the initial visit), I called doc to tell him we would be coming in, but not for surgery. It had already spread to 2 more locations in her mouth (upper right, lower right & lower left). Within 3 weeks we were saying good bye.

I would talk to doc about supportive care, see if he thinks prednisone & metacam will help her quality of life. Prednisone can help with any inflammation and metacam to keep the pain down. Hopefully yours won't grow so quickly and you can get some quality time together.

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