Low key singing My Humps during this entire procedure 🎵
Let’s talk lumps and bumps for just a second. I see a handful of appointments every day that come in for “check growth.” These range from tiny skin tags, to open and oozing masses that are already causing the pet pain and discomfort, to “we’re pretty sure it’s just fatty, but we just wanted you to confirm it.” The majority of owners want me to look at it and tell them if they need to worry or not, and my response is the same every time.
“We need to test it”
Unfortunately for the foreseeable future, my cancer goggles are broken. Myself and every other vet out there cannot tell you whether something is cancer or not by looking at it. Can we make an educated guess? Sure. Can we be wrong? Abso-freaking-lutely.
As @drsuecancervet would say, “why wait? Aspirate.” An aspirate is a very minorly invasive procedure, where a needle the size of a vaccine needle, is poked into the mass. The cells retrieved are then placed on a slide and looked at under a microscope to identify markers indicative of cancer. This gives us a great way to identify if something is benign or if it needs to be removed, and allows us to plan for surgery if removal is necessary.
This patient came in with a mass that had rapidly grown, and the owner was highly concerned about. She told me a good friend had said it was fatty, older dogs get those, and not to worry about it- but she went with her gut and brought her fur child in for testing. She wanted to be sure. Unfortunately, this mass came back as a type of cancer stemming from the blood vessels, and surgical removal was necessary. Follow up visits with the oncology team are already in the works, but for some good news, so far the tests to look for cancer spreading throughout the body have been negative 🙌🏽
Unfortunately cancer can look and feel like absolutely anything, and our fur babies are so stoic. Many clients repeat the same line “it doesn’t seem to bother them!” and my answer is “why would we wait until it does?” Let’s do right by them and find out early if we need to worry, that way we can give them the best chance to live their fullest life possible! 🐾