Canine Tumor Treatment Options

Lili Duda, VMD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
My miniature schnauzer, Hans, was recently diagnosed with a tumor. It is fairly large and located under his left leg, near his chest. My veterinarian has x-rayed it and has the following plan.

  1. Place on antibiotics for the next two weeks, hoping he is wrong, and the lump will shrink.
  2. If this does not work, surgery is then recommended. Once the leg is opened up if the tumor is wrapped around the main blood vessel and removal is not clean then he must amputate the leg. It will then be 3 days before we receive results back from lab if it is cancer.
Hans is a 13 year old male, and neutered. He recently had a medical condition similar to a stroke. My concerns are great. My alternative to the above is to put him to sleep.

If you can give me any direction, information, which can help me make a vital decision, I would be grateful.  
Time is so short, please help.

Lili Duda, VMD, Editor of the OncoLink Veterinary Oncology Section, responds:

Regarding Hans, I would strongly recommend a "fine-needle aspirate" or "incisional biospy" before any more aggressive procedures such as you are describing are undertaken. Both the procedures mentioned are ways to take small samples of the tumor and get a diagnosis before doing something more definitive. In addition, if it is cancer (as opposed to a benign tumor), it sounds as if an amputation might not result in adequate margins (based on your brief description of the location of the tumor). It might be wise to get a diagnosis first, and then consult a board-certified surgeon if aggressive surgery is indicated.