My husband and I did online research for 5 days and nights straight…. The best study about nasal cancer treatment with/through radiation we found online is unfortunately only available in my/our native language (German). They had a larger group of dogs to start with and they did 4 treatments with 8Gy each and achieved much better results (a few dogs even lived for several years after treatment) than the 5x4Gy they mostly offer in the US for palliative treatment and the side effects where manageable it seemed to my hubby and me. Maybe I should translate it, it might be worth it I think we did not make the right decision, we should have gotten a second opinion
(The rest got kind of long, I apologize for that – it is our experience with radiation) I wanted to go for the 4times 8GY treatment… Well, my vet was NOT HAPPY when I asked for THAT protocol. Something about not inventing the wheel twice, how you cannot pick/chose … .I should have probably tried somewhere else but I was so glad I found a specialist reasonably close by that had decent experience (they have 3 new nasal cancer patients each month that opt for radiation). So we kind of had to go with the full course we felt especially since I was told that he was a really good candidate to make it past the one year mark. That was till we met the new radiation oncologist at the same clinic (Dr. Clark at VCA Aurora, IL) during his first follow-up visit. She immediately asked me WHY we put him through the definitive treatment because with his rather poor prognosis (tumor location and bone invasion) the one week palliative treatment would have bought us the same amount of little time. My facial expression made her attempt to withdraw that question/comment but that didn’t help. I felt like I put him through hell for nothing.
As you can see from his picture from my last email taken after his 19th treatment he had fewer visible burns than Nunya because his tumor is so far back of his head (invaded the orbital bone and gone through the cribriform plate into the brain). The closer to the skin the tumor is the more burns you will see, a deeper located tumor means less skin less involved) So way fewer burns. Some loss of fur, some burns on the roof of his mouth and later he lost his eyelashes and some skin around the right eye but everything grew back. But it felt like he aged at least 3 or 4 years. He turned 11 in May but he acts like 15 or 16. Like he barely recovered from the amount of anesthesia he went through. He had days where he seemed lost (almost demented). We had to tell him why and where he was. He lost over 10 pounds. We felt so bad and were convinced we made the wrong decision but then he slowly started to recover (finished treatment 4/18). In the meantime while recovering he impaled himself on a stick by losing balance when “marking” and his belly had to be stitched up so by the end. I almost lost it that day. But he recovered some more and by the end of May he had a really great week or 2. Then he got congested, started sneezing and couldn’t sleep through the night beginning of June. Within 3 days he was as bad as before we started treatment. Finally we heard back from the specialists and 5 days of antibiotics later he was much better. But even though we did 2 rounds of antibiotics totaling 4 weeks he did not get back to anything “normal” and now he lost interest in everything. He just lays there and naps. Been doing that for 2 days now. Doesn’t even go to his favorite bed or any other favorite place in the house. Tried to take him for a walk 2 hours ago but we have been plagued by mosquitos for almost 2 weeks now and the swarms freak him out (me too). He seems depressed. He has always been “Mr. Independence” but he always had his “social evenings” (mostly chasing his sisters or barking at squirrels in trees) but right now it is hard to see him ignore mostly everything. The heat, humidity and the mosquitos really don’t help right now. We will take him and one of his sisters (female Bernese Mountain Dog) on a camping trip with our RV to the UP in Michigan and will go from Canada from there in 2 weeks. He used to love these trips. Woods and more woods and no leash for 2 weeks straight … way cooler and fresh air … I hope it will perk him up a bit, right now he won’t even lift his head when somebody enters the house. Regular vet has no clue …. I think his gums look irritated in one spot so we got an appointment for Monday morning with a vet that does more dental stuff, maybe he has a bad tooth? My friend had to wear dental fluoride trays during and after radiation treatment so I guess teeth suffer …. Lots to learn!
Please see Andrea’s contributions to the Cancer Tips Page.