Wednesday, November 25, 2009
First visit to NEVOG
Tia and I took our first trip up to New England Veterinary Oncology Group in Waltham, MA yesterday. We knew we were in the right place when we entered the reception area and all the other dog patients had "poodle legs" just like Tia's. (Their legs had been shaved for medical procedures.) We met with Dr. Kari Rosen. Tia acted like a little person the whole time. She even jumped up in one of the exam room chairs, curled up and listened to everything Dr. Rosen had to say. Dr. Rosen answered every question I had before I even asked it, and was very professional and knowledgeable. She said Tia's cancer is not considered 'malignant', in that it won't spread to other parts of the body, but it is locally very invasive. Tia's form of cancer is the worst of the dental type cancers because of its aggressive nature, but at this point she feels it is treatable. She showed me how much bigger Tia's tumor is inside her mouth, around the palate area. We discussed treatment options. The first course of action is to do a CT scan in order to see exactly how far the tumor has gone. This needs to be done regardless of what form of treatment we opt for. Once that is done we can see whether it is best to do surgery or radiation. Dr. Rosen feels that if it is possible to remove the entire tumor through surgery, then this is the way to go. If the CT scan reveals that surgery is not an option then radiation is the next best thing. Radiation is done to control the tumor. The response rate is 80-90%. They administer a 'lifetime dose' of radiation over a 3 week period - 15 treatments. There are risks with both, but if we do absolutely nothing, Tia's life expectancy is 4-6 months. The tumor will just continue to grow until it impedes her ability to eat, breathe, etc., and it becomes very painful.
While we were there Dr. Rosen took Tia to consult with Dr. Nieves, who specializes in oral and facial tumors. Dr. Nieves said that based on a visual inspection of the tumor she thinks she may be able to remove the whole thing, but she'll have a better feel for it after reviewing the CT scan. We are scheduled to return to NEVOG next week, on December 1st. Then she will have the CT scan and a pre-anesthesia chest xray.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!