Results 1 to 6 of 6

Where to Draw the Line When a Pet is Suffering from Cancer

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    7,208

    Where to Draw the Line When a Pet is Suffering from Cancer

    People readily associate a diagnosis of cancer with severe adverse clinical signs. I’m not speaking of the effects of chemotherapy or radiation; rather I’m referring to the decline in a patient’s quality of life occurring secondary to progression of disease.

    Regardless of whether the patient is a human or an animal, we’re equally capable of visualizing a person or pet experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, inappetance or lethargy directly because of a diagnosis of cancer.

    As a veterinary oncologist, my responsibility is to guide owners in deciding whether to pursue treatment versus palliative (comfort) care versus euthanasia following a diagnosis of cancer. Those conversations are difficult, but can be a bit more straightforward in cases where pets are obviously sick from disease, versus when they are diagnosed incidentally or with minimal signs.

    When an animal’s quality of life is poor and is manifested by major symptoms such as weight loss, lethargy, or breathing difficulties, it’s not difficult to explain to an owner that their options are limited and heroic measures are not in their pet’s best interests. With rare exception, such poor quality of life is considered an absolute “endpoint” for pet owners.

    However, pets with locally advanced forms of cancer, rather than systemic disease, are more likely to only sporadically show dramatic adverse signs from their condition, rather than constantly behave sick or painful. For those patients, the line in the sand of “good versus bad” health is blurred. It’s challenging to discuss the profound impact a temporary, but consistent, deterioration in behavior has for a pet.



    The best examples of such tumors are those affecting the urinary bladder and perianal/rectal regions. The most common tumors of the urinary tract include transitional cell carcinoma, leiomyosarcoma, lymphoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. The most common tumors of the perianal/rectal region include anal sac adenocarcinoma, perianal gland adenomas and adenocarcinomas, rectal carcinoma, and lymphoma.

    Cancers arising from these specific anatomical areas do not cause the typical, systemic signs of illness mentioned above, at least in their early stages. However, tumors of the urinary bladder can obstruct the flow of urine out of the bladder. Likewise, tumors of the perianal region are significant because they can inhibit the pet’s ability to pass fecal waste.

    Tumor growth within the urinary bladder or perirectal/perianal region causes signs such as straining to urinate or pain and difficulty while passing stool. When tumors are small, signs are usually subtle and occur only a few times per week. Over time (weeks to months), signs progress to include more extreme discomfort when attempting to eliminate urine or feces on a regular basis.

    During the specific time period the pet is attempting to void, I know their quality of life is exceptionally poor. The pain associated with elimination, though intermittent, drastically impacts their lives. However, at other times, affected animals will eat, drink, sleep, play, beg for treats, and wag their tails in the same way they would prior to their diagnosis of cancer. They don’t look sick, but are they truly healthy?

    Owners struggle with assessing quality of life in those situations. The temporary, but intensely negative impact makes answering the question of “How will I know when it’s time?” so much more fluid. The conversations are complex. The answer lies in the gray area between the extremes of health and illness.

    We never consider cancer a “good” diagnosis to face. We associate the word “cancer” with swiftly growing tumors that spread rapidly throughout the body, leading to a patient’s hasty demise.

    Unfortunately, tumors located in a place where their presence interrupts vital processes necessary for survival may never need to travel farther than their anatomical site of inception to cause equally devastating effects.

    Pet owners and veterinarians bear tremendous responsibility in ensuring that the needs of animals affected by any type of cancer are met. Even if symptoms occur intermittently, we must remember that quality of life is measured both quantitatively and qualitatively. Are we truly keeping an animal’s quality of life at the forefront of our decision making if we allow suffering to occur?
    he is your friend and protector, he will love you unconditionally, you owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion

  2. #2

    Palliative radiation.

    Good Afternoon! We just found out our 11yeard old cat/child Toby has nasal cancer. At this point chemo and radiation are not an option. Palliative radiation is. He currently is active, eating, going outside etc., but his right nasal cavity is closing making it more difficult to breath. I know there isn't a cure for him and I have chosen to go ahead with the palliative radiation but it all scares me. I just want some relief for him, if the tumor continues to grow it will become more and more uncomfortable and the other nasal will be blocked and then he will stop eating. I have asked everyone I know and reached out to social media and nothing. Does anyone have experience with palliative radiation.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    7,208
    I'm sorry to hear that, cancer is a battle you can't win, you can slow it down but the end is always the same, I've lost one cat and one dog to cancer. I know how you feel. My cat had an inoperable cancerous tumor in his chest making it hard for him to breathe, I wouldn't let him suffer by not being able to breathe so had him put down that afternoon. My rescue shepherd had lymphomia, she died five weeks after the diagnosis.

    No one can make up your mind for you, when they have more bad days than good then its time to let them go. Radiation may slow it down but don't get your hopes up. If I were you and its not to advanced I'd get a bottle of collodial silver and add it to a vaporizer and let him breathe it in. Silver has many healing properties (which the vets won't tell you) It won't cure him but it will make him more comfortable. You have nothing to loose at this point and even if it doesn't help, it can't hurt.

    I wish peace for you and an easy passing for him. You have my sympathies, I know what you are going through. Been there twice.

    If you've never heard of colloidal treatment read this article

    https://www.cancertutor.com/dmso-cs/
    he is your friend and protector, he will love you unconditionally, you owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    2,471
    Welcome to the forum Twisted. You will definitely get some answers here, as well as sympathy when the time to tell your furbaby goodbye comes.

    It looks like you have accepted the fact all you can do is make Toby comfortable as long as he can breathe through his left nostril. This is very important. Most people who have had to make decisions on euthanasia say count the good days and the bad days. Of course, that is oversimplifying it. Everyone who has been there and done that knows there are many factors in determining what a good or bad day is for their pets, not all pets.

    Aside from difficult breathing, is Toby showing any signs of illness or discomfort that will not go away? Is he eating and drinking normally? What about sleeping?
    Keep your cats safe during the holidays. They deserve a meowy Catmas.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    PA USA
    Posts
    2,928
    I'm sorry to hear about your Toby. I have a cat named Toby too. I don't have any experience with palliative radiation but have with cancer. It's a terrible disease and when my Stella was diagnosed with it we didn't go for the chemo route. If I were you I would try Linda's suggestion about adding collodial silver to a vaporizer. It probably would be best though to keep him indoors. It's important for you to stay positive and remember that there will be good days and bad ones. I hope you have fewer bad days with Toby.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    2,471
    I agree with Esme on keeping Toby indoors. In fact that is a must because some cats run from home to die alone when they know their time is expiring (feline instinct). Confinement to the home is generally a good idea for sick cats anyway.

    I know how hard it is to be happy and stay positive at times like this. Don't be afraid to smile. Don't be afraid to cry either.
    Keep your cats safe during the holidays. They deserve a meowy Catmas.

Please reply to this thread with any new information or opinions.

Similar Threads

  1. Help for dogs suffering from the war in Ukraine
    By help.ukr.dogs in forum Looking for Support
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 06-24-2015, 03:11 AM
  2. Is your dog suffering from tendon or ligament injuries?
    By linda2147 in forum Dog Health and Nutrition
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 06-11-2015, 07:20 AM
  3. Replies: 6
    Last Post: 04-09-2014, 10:02 PM
  4. My scottish terrier is suffering from a terrible skin disease
    By Artur in forum Dog Health and Nutrition
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 08-19-2013, 01:47 PM
  5. Lymph cancer
    By Izz1 in forum Dog Health and Nutrition
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-21-2012, 09:45 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Family & Health Forums: Senior Forums - Health Forum