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davesildown
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:31 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Hi everyone,
After a month of limping and unsuccessful treatment with antibiotics, we have just been given a diagnosis, following fine needle aspiration, that Maxi, our 10 year old dark fawn boy has squamous cell carcinoma in his toe.
Having read the research it appears that there is a high risk of metastatic disease spreading to the lungs, and that we may be offered chemo- or radio- therapy following surgery. I know that our vet is planning to examine his lymph nodes and take x-rays of his lungs to check out for any pre-operative spread, and that the prognosis, if positive, will not be too good.

I want to be prepared for the discussion with the vet following his operation and wondered if anyone here has had similar experiences.
I've only found one meta-analysis which mentioned this as common in Briards, but I'm sure we're not the first to encounter this problem.

Any advice would be really gratefully received.
Dave.
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jerrymo
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 7:23 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Dave, I am sorry to hear that maxi has a bad toe, and I hope you get good news back from the vets. I don't have any experience of this but quite a few people on the forum do and I' m sure they will post helpful advice soon.

Fingers and paws all crossed here for maxi.
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Brion's Mrs
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 10:26 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Hello. I think Brion has had three different outbreaks of squamous cell cancer of the toe. Our vet is certainly much less gloomy in her forecasts re the likelihood of it metatastising (hope the right word) to the internal organs than yours seems to be. She has always said that the good thing about it is that it normally doesn't, and although there is of course a possibility of this most recent occurrence (toe amputated at the end of June) doing so, Brion is in very robust health at present.
We have had the amputated toes biopsied each time, to confirm the diagnosis and also to make sure that the margins were OK after the op, which saved him last year, when it turned out that they weren't, and he had to have a second amputation of the same toe.
We had his lungs x-rayed and lymph glands checked last year because he was in a very bad way, losing hair and very thin, and we feared the worst, as did our vet, but they proved clear, and he recovered totally. Sadly he then got another tumour, in the same foot as had the original one (three years ago), so that foot is now two toes to the bad but the wound has healed, and he is running around again.
My understanding, hope it is helpful because it is so worrying I know, is that the sooner the toe comes off the better and also that the toe cancer can grow quite quickly. Despite Brion's history of toe cancer and our vet's strong suspicion that that was what was causing the limping and definite nailbed infection this time around, she still hesitated to amputate, when we would have preferred her to, and x-rayed once and then didn't remove the toe because she could see no sign of bone disintegration. I don't know why but she didn't do a fine needle aspiration and has always said to us that the only way to get a definite diagnosis of cancer is to do a biopsy and you can only do that by toe removal because otherwise you don't get a big enough sample, so it is always only an educated guess. So poor Brion limped on and we forked out for a lot of different courses of antibiotics until the toe looked really horrid and the vet then thought it did look clearly cancerous and operated and biopsied, and by then of course the tumour was much larger.
I don't really understand about the lymph glands because Brion's lymph gland on the leg above the tumour was enlarged both before and after the op but our vet, and also the one we took him to while on holiday in Norfolk, said that that can be purely a sign of infection present, and to complicate matters Brion also had a badly infected toe both before and after the op, which the vets said is quite normal when a tumour is present. (He also has a chronic condition of dud toenails, which split and so expose him to the possibility of infection regularly!)
As I say, do hope this helps. So sorry you are having all this worry. My understanding, told me by our vet, is that this is a relatively common cancer of large black dogs and Linda Coleman, the Briard health coordinator, told me that Brion was the first fawn she had heard of to be affected. So sorry he now doesn't seem to be the only one.
Amanda
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Brion's Mrs
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 8:16 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Just Googled it and I can't find anything saying that the toe tumour is likely to metastatise. All I can find says that amputation is normally 95% successful, which seems v encouraging. Amanda
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Deborah Mansi (DEBUET)
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 7:12 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I think this is screaming of the vet wants to make copious amounts of money and is exploiting your worry. It sounds to me, that all they need to do is amputate the toe as Amanda's vet did with Brion. If you are not happy, I would suggest you see another vet for a second opinion.

Debbie

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diberdee
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:40 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I don't think the vet is scaremongering, it can and does spread. They are just being thorough and they do have to advise you of the possibilities, however small.

You wouldn't want to have a toe amputated, to find in a few weeks that there was spread to other areas.

Hope Maxi's scans are clear x
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Paul & Caitriona
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 1:37 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Hi Dave,

I am very sorry to hear your boy has squamous cell carcinoma in his toe, our boy Bee (front page photo) had this back in 2007 at the age of 11. He had his toe amputated but unfortunately not sufficient to try and eliminate the risk as much as possible meaning we had a second operation done soon after to remove the remaining digit. It did not make any difference with regard to his walking or recovery. You can find my original post here

My advise would be to ensure the complete toe is removed and keep a watchful eye on all his other toes.

With regard to spreading unfortunately for Bee it had spread resulting in another toe having to be amputated on another paw not much later. This meant 3 operations within a very short period of time. He recovered well and was not affected by missing two toes.

Sadly a year later the cancer was back in yet another toe in another paw, this we felt was too much of a hurdle to overcome with him being 12 and becoming frail and we decided that the kindest thing was to let him go over to the rainbow bridge.

I think each case will vary and the approach of each vet will differ. All I can say is go with your gut feel, if you feel comfortable and have faith in your vet then go with his advise.

Chemo is of course an option although from my own research a number of years ago, (I think about 5 when we had Rhian), it does not offer a cure and might only prolong live by a couple of months, things might have changed by now?

I wish you and Maxi all the best in the days ahead and wish him a speedy recovery.

Paul

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Brion's Mrs
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 2:32 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I do recall our vet saying that unfortunately this type of tumour does tend to reappear, often on different paws, which she said would indicate a totally new incidence since that type of tumour wouldn't spread from paw to paw. She said that some dogs are just very susceptible to this.
Poor Bee had several paw tumours in quick succession but Brion's have - so far - been quite well spread out. For what it's worth I got my original chronology wrong, I realise, since each has happened at the beginning of the summer holidays and so is easily datable by the particular family holiday involved! The first toe, a back one, came off three years ago, when Brion was just 7, then the next one the following summer, two years ago (that was the one which necessitated two ops to ensure clear margins) and now this one, the same back paw as originally but now with a three year gap, came off in June this year, and he's now just 10.
Brion's age seems all too typical because all that I've read about this type of tumour says that they are typically found in dogs aged 7 to 11.
Hope this is a bit reassuring. Amanda
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maxnick
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 2:43 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Dave, not offering advice, as you have had some good advice already. Just hugs & hope it goes ok xx

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Paul & Caitriona
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 2:52 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Dave

For your information we had the same experience with Rhian who was a fawn, her lymph node, which was swollen too, went back to normal following the amputation of her toe. She also stayed with us for another year following the op but then she also had mammary tumour removed earlier whilst at the SSPCA and was the most likely cause of the recurrence.

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Nicola
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:56 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Hi Dave

My 9 year old Briard Dylan has had this in two toes (on different feet). The first toe was removed with a wide margin. The second was removed and found to have pre-cancerous cells. The pathologist that looked at the first toe said that this type of cancer rarely spreads. Our vet nevertheless took a 'belt and braces' approach and monitored Dylan's lymph glands. The idea was that if the cancer did spread to a lymph glad it could be removed, stopping the cancer in its tracks. It is a year since Dylan had his first toe removed and nine months since the second. We continue to keep an eye on him, but so far he seems (fingers crossed, touch wood and all that ) fit and well and doesn't appear to miss his toes.

Hope this helps you to feel more confident and optimistic.

Nicola
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Ruth Richardson
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 3:02 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

How did you all discover your dogs had something wrong with their toes? Worried now, as Hugo (large, black 8 year old) tripped and tore a toe nail off a few weeks ago. He had antibiotics and painkillers for the first 2 weeks and the vet said she didn't need to see him again, as it would heal up and the nail would grow back, but the stump at the top of his toe where the nail came off is still red and bleeds from time to time (still doing the salt water baths). I have no idea what it should look like at this stage. My hubby's just said how do we know he didn't already have a problem with it before he tripped, which has got me thinking. He does have those dry, brittle nails which shed the outer layer from time to time, although to my knowledge they haven't split along the whole length.
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Nicola
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 3:53 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Hi Ruth

The first time around Dylan was limping and I found that he had a split toe nail all the way down. The vet cut the nail off and gave him antibiotics which didn't work. After the second round of antibiotics the vet decided to x-ray his toes and you could see a shadow in the poorly toe which could have been the infection spreading, but the vet suspected a tumour so decided to have the toe cut off and have it biopsied. We found the second one as Dylan kept licking his foot. We couldn't find anything wrong, but Jo (our vet) thought the toe was a bit swollen and we all decided that the it was safest to have the toe removed. It was a gamble but as it was a different foot and the vet thought there was a good chance it was cancer, we went ahead. That toe turned out to have pre-cancerous cells. If Hugo's toe is still not right I'd go back. He might just need stronger antibiotics but it's best to check.
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Brion's Mrs
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 5:00 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Hello. It seems that Nicola's vet is a bit keener on toe removal than ours. We've noticed each problem because Brion was either limping or licking or both and had split claws that weren't healing, then lots of antibiotics. Toe 1 had two x-rays, toe 2 one x-ray and toe 3 one x-ray but none of the x-rays were definitive because either they didn't show anything much at all or, as in the first case, they did show clear bone disintegration but the vet said that can be caused by a bad infection or a tumour.
What proved decisive in each case for Brion was that the toe (a) wasn't responding to the antibiotics and (b) it began to look quite sinister, with an increasingly large area of skin breaking down.
I would also go back to the vet if you are worried and keep a very close eye on it.
If it will reassure you I can add that our vet kept saying that she was reluctant to amputate toe 3, as we were asking her to do, because she had been about to amputate the toe of another dog in the wake of Brion's toe 2, which she, the vet, was very upset to have left so late, because she didn't want to make the same mistake again but her partner had persuaded her to go for just one more round of antibiotics and they had done the trick. So she was glad she hadn't rushed to amputate that time.
Dear Hugo, give him a pat from me.
Amanda
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Nicola
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 8:07 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Well I'm sure that vets don't remove dogs' toes willy nilly. Our vet was as sure as she could be (based upon her training and experience) and made that call and we decided to trust her- let's not forget she was right!

Ruth, you know whether you trust you vet or not. You'll know what to do. I hope Hugo is feeling better soon - I'm sure he will be.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 8:48 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Oh Nicola, I hope you don't think I was criticising your vet. The opposite. I wish ours had been quicker to amputate when it seemed most likely that cancer was the problem. One time she actually anaesthetised Brion and told us that she would be amputating, then couldn't bring herself to after a not totally conclusive x-ray. I only share my detailed accounts of experiences with Brion in the hope that they are helpful for others either dealing with this problem or worrying about it. I know that every dog is different but I hope that at least it is a bit encouraging that there were quite lengthy delays before the decisions to amputate each time, but still the cancer didn't spread to vital organs. Amanda
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Ruth Richardson
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 8:44 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Thanks, Nicola and Amanda. I will keep a close eye on it and whizz him across the road to the vet if necessary. He's not really limping, as the nail bed is on top of his toe. He does lick it for a short spell every now and then, but he's not obsessed with it. Fingers crossed it all heals up soon.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:10 am Reply with quoteBack to top

They usually do. Amanda
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Ruth Richardson
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 8:54 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Just wondering how Maxi was doing. Given that Hugo was diagnosed with this yesterday, having already had the toe amputated 8 days before, I'd be interested in hearing any new developments.
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Ruth Richardson
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 6:45 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Spoke to Hugo's oncologist yesterday. I asked her if she had come across many cases of subungual squamous cell carcinoma. She said that she had, although wanted to point out it was still very rare. I asked her what percentage of all those cases went on to get it in a second toe and she said again that this was extremely rare. I mentioned that I knew of a few briards who had had it in 2 or 3 toes and she said that there may be some hereditary link there. This made sense to me, as so many of our briards share common ancestry.
Interestingly, when I asked what sort of things to look out for in the future, besides any limping, toe licking, nail problems etc. she said to look out for any other dog showing an interest in one of his feet. This wouldn't happen with Hugo, as no dog can get near enough, but it does confirm those theories that dogs can detect cancer.
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Amanda Elsdon-Dew
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 9:04 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I certainly don't know much about this, apart from the experience of one dog, but our vet definitely said when Brion first had it that she had met it in several other dogs at the practice - a large Schnauzer I seem to remember and a Flatcoat - and she warned us then that it does tend to recur in different toes, which seems to differ from your oncologist's view, though I would have thought your oncologist more knowledgeable than our local vet, who is more like a GP.
I'll look out for toe sniffing. I don't seem to remember Dinah sniffing Brion's foot but I definitely did notice her sniffing him much more than normal when we were going through the whole process of wondering if it was an infected toe or cancer - which actually made me wonder at the time.
Hope Hugo is continuing to get better. Amanda

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Ruth Richardson
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 6:43 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Well, going on the experience of other briard owners, I have accepted the fact that Hugo may well get it again. For the moment, he is fine, hardly limping at all and full of beans. He had a check-up yesterday and the wound was declared 90% healed. His final check-up is on Monday. He's allowed to go for lead walks on good paths when it's dry now and I'm sure, after Monday, the sock will come off and we can get back to normal. Because he had slowed down so much, we were convinced he had something wrong internally. Now that we know he hasn't and that it was all due to a sore toe (he led the way the whole time on our walk yesterday), perhaps combined with getting on a bit, we are just relieved and grateful to have him for longer. Hopefully, like Brion, he'll get a year or 2 between any recurrence.
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Amanda Elsdon-Dew
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 7:58 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Or hopefully like many other dogs with one occurrence of this nasty thing, never get it again at all! amanda

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Ruth Richardson
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 12:10 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Oh definitely, Amanda! Fingers crossed that none of our furry friends get it again! After reading the posts of people who have lost their dogs to other illnesses, I do realise things could be worse, so I do count my blessings and feel very positive for the future.
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