Pecos’s Story: Surgery, discoveries and treatment

It’s been a while since Pecos’s Story had an update and a lot has happened in that time.

A mentioned before, Pecos had an X-Ray done to see if there was any sign of cancer in his lungs or chest. The X-Ray was clean, although there was some concern about the size of his heart but that went away after the radiologists had their look and saw nothing out of the ordinary. Pecos was cleared for surgery to remove the Oral Melanoma mass from his lower lip. We also asked the Vet who performed the surgery to examine a spot we saw under his tongue.

A couple weeks later Pecos went in for surgery. They removed the mass and did an incredible job at sewing up the removal area on his lip. The Vet was able to tuck the stitch inside his lip where he couldn’t get at it. This saved us from two weeks of having Pecos wear a lampshade on his head and all the chaos that would bring. He never scratched or opened the wound which was fantastic. On his tongue they found the spot underneath and performed a similar removal of it that didn’t require stitches. It also, surprisingly, didn’t bleed afterwards, at least not in any way that left blood on any bed or pillow Pecos puts his head on.

While Pecos recovered, we waited for the biopsy results. When they finally arrived, it was with bittersweet results. The good news was that the biopsy confirmed that the Melanoma was completely removed and nothing was left behind. The Melanoma growth was shaped like a Mushroom Cloud in that it was attached by a very tiny “stalk” to the lip, then grew out into the mass. The Vet took about 2mm of material from around the stalk and it appears that was enough to get it all. The bad news is that the spot on his tongue was also cancer, but not Melanoma. It was a Hemangiosarcoma which is considered to be rare in dogs, but can appear underneath the tongue when they do happen. Like Yuki, Pecos is now diagnosed with having two cancers. The biopsy reported that all the of the Hemangiosarcoma was removed, which was also good news. But Pecos is now off to chemotherapy too.

One downside of Pecos having these two cancers is that the prescribed treatments for each are opposing methods (the other being Hemangiosarcoma is practically a death sentence). For the canine Melanoma, the current treatment is a 4-shot “vaccine” that trains the dog’s immune system to attack a particular protein present in Melanoma cells. For this treatment, the immune system needs to be healthy. The treatment for the Hemangiosarcoma is a 6-month daily regimen of Cytoxan pills. This treatment weakens the immune system so, of course, can’t be done the same time as the Melanoma vaccine. The Oncologist decided to proceed with attacking the Melanoma first then the Hemangiosarcoma. This means that for four visits every other week, he’ll get the vaccine shot. After those eight weeks end, he’ll then start on a daily Cytoxan dose for six months. Fortunately the Cytoxan regimen doesn’t require visits to the Oncologist and we’ll be able to do it at home, just having to handle the pills with gloves.

Outside of all this, Pecos seems healthy and is having no reactions to the vaccine. He’s slowing a bit in his old age, but we finally have him on a diet where he’s lost 10lbs from his highest recorded weight of 138lbs.


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