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A Beamer Update and Diagnosis of a Cancerous Tumor

Beamer at home

October 18, 2013

It has been almost two years since our Tibetan Terrier, Beamer, went through the trials and challenges of recovery from paralysis brought on by a rabies vaccine, Vaccinosis.  Beamer recovered well but was left with permanent nerve damage that shows up as a tremor in his muscles when he stands.  Beyond that, he is strong and happy.  He runs, leaps, and plays.  He is now almost twelve years old.

Two months ago (August, 2013) we noticed a sore in Beamer’s mouth on the lower gum line.    We had the sore aspirated by the veterinarian, but it was non-conclusive.  We went home with instructions to keep an eye on it to see if it changed.  A few weeks later, after returning from a two-week trip, we noticed that the sore was much larger.  We decided to take him to University of Georgia Veterinary Hospital for evaluation.  A biopsy confirmed that it was a Soft Tissue Sarcoma (Hemangiopericytoma), a cancer that is slow-growing and it did not appear to have metastasized to other organs or body parts based on further scans and tests.

We went back to the UGA Vet Hospital to discuss our options with the head of the soft tissue surgical department.  We were left with only two choices.  Leave it alone and let it grow, which would eventually lead to death in what would probably be a six to twelve month period (and very painful for Beamer as the tumor grew into the jaw bone) or we could remove it.  The decision to remove it meant that Beamer should live out his life without worrying about this tumor and cancer from the Sarcoma.  However, removing it meant taking a major part of the lower jaw bone, not just tissue.  It meant that Beamer would lose his lower front teeth to the canines.  This was not an easy decision.

The tumor was to the right side of his gum line

The tumor was to the right side of his gum line

We worked with several other vets to gain their perspective and advice.  It became clear that this surgery was the best decision, but we knew it was going to be very hard, on us as much as Beamer.

Prior to surgery, Beamer received a CT scan to verify how deep the tumor had grown.  They also x-rayed his organs.  He already had an ultrasound of his abdomen to ensure there were no other growths or problems that might compromise his recovery or future health.  He passed all tests and we were told that he is in really good shape for a twelve-year-old dog.

It was also confirmed that the tumor was in the soft tissue and not in the bone.  This was good news, but it didn’t change the need to remove the lower jaw to the canines in order to properly close the wound and assure that it wouldn’t return (clean margins).

The operation and tests prior to the surgery had him sedated for about 3 hours.  We didn’t get to see Beamer until the next day as they kept him quiet and medicated to keep him as comfortable as possible.  We hated to leave him overnight but we knew this was best.

The next day we went to visit Beamer and learned that he could go home with us that day, to our surprise and delight.  But, going home doesn’t mean that he is well as we have learned.

We will follow-up with another post after Beamer has been home with us for several days.

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4 responses »

  1. I hope Beamer is doing ok now. I do recall your blog. When I saw your recent Facebook photo of Beamer, I thought he was my Simons litter mate, but Beamer is at least a year or two older. My Simon is also from Lori Toth. His dad, Something Big to Talk About looks exactly like Beamer. Big was born March 30, 2010. He became a Grand a Champion in record time…as he is gorgeous like Beamer. They must be related. Our little Simon is sable, unlike his 4 litter mates. We keep Beamer and you in our thoughts and hope for a complete recovery.

    Reply
    • Hi Cindy,

      Thank you. We think Beamer is a beautiful dog, too. :-) Beamer will be 12 at the end of December, but they may be related since Lori is the breeder for both of them.

      I will be sure to look for photos of your Simon on Facebook. I am sure he is adorable. We appreciate your good wishes for Beamer’s recovery.

      Gwen

      Reply
  2. I read your post for the first time. My husband is an oral surgeon for people. If he found the tumor he would have sent it to a major teaching hospital for a head and neck surgeon. It was good not in the jawbone. I had a schnauzer with a lip melanoma which we left alone. It didn’t grow.The surgery is difficult. Good luck with Beamer.

    Reply
    • Hi Dianne,

      Thank you for your comment. We did go to a teaching hospital for the biopsy and surgery, University of Georgia Veterinary Hospital. It was a difficult decision to choose the surgery option, but everything we read said Beamer would have between 6-12 months if we let the tumor grow and did nothing. We had better odds to have the surgery and let him recover and adapt to the new jaw. In this case, no option was a good one, but hopefully, we made the right decision and every pet owner has to make their own personal choice. I am glad that in your case, the decision you made was the right one.

      Gwen

      Gwen

      Reply

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