Thank you to everyone who answered last fall’s Tripawds Cancer Metastasis Survey. We received 31 thoughtful and informative responses. We hope the following survey snapshot will help anyone looking for insight about what pet cancer metastasis looks like in some dogs and cats.
Tripawds Cancer Metastasis Survey Findings
Remember, this is not a scientifically accurate survey but a general shapshot of the Tripawds community members who shared their cancer metastasis experience. We received 31 responses profiling 29 dogs and 2 cats. The majority were diagnosed with osteosarcoma, with some hemangiosarcoma diagnoses.
Because everyone’s cancer journey is different, it’s tricky to quantify when and how metastasis occurred and some answers take more explanation than filling in a check mark, as you’ll see:
Question: How much time elapsed between cancer diagnosis and metastasis?
More than half of the respondents said mets didn’t happen until at least six months had gone by. Their answers were:
- 0 days
- Simultaneous diagnosis.
- 11 weeks 2 days
- 2 months
- 3 months (5 responses)
- 4 months (3 responses)
- 5 months
- 6 months (2 responses)
- 7 months
- 8 months (2 responses)
- 9 months (3 responses)
- 10 months
- 11 months from diagnosis to 1st metastasis (from her right humerus it went to her left femur and pelvis). A another diagnoses 5 months later (to her left humerus). And 5 months later metastasis to the lungs.
- 10-12 months
- 12 months at most
- A little over one year.
- 14 months
- 15 months
- 4.5 years total. s/p debulking x2 and 15 radiation treatments. Came back at original site- amp.
Where Did Metastasis Develop?
How Did the Metastasis Present Itself?
- Coughing (8)
- coughing that ended up being unrelated to the met
- Coughing, Wheezing
- Coughed up blood and was having mobility issues (although we didn’t know it at the time – it was due to HO)
- One hacky cough
- lump on leg
- had lump in skin near amputation site
- None – a lump was discovered in her upper leg area
- Big lump visible on chest
- Minor amounts of blood during coughing, lump growth on the left thigh.
- Warmth, red, swelling and growth by the day. adjacent to right hind amp site into the abdomen.
Decreased Activity (4)
- Slower activity
- General slowing down – was picked up in routine X-ray but no specific symptoms
- Less energy, perhaps more panting and slight change in breathing pattern. Not anything that really “jumped out”…everything was pretty subtle. These “symptoms” did become more apparent as time went on…especially less energy and not being able to sleep very well.
Lack of Appetite (2)
- No appetite x 3 days
- Less interested in food, but only very slightly. A bit less energetic.
- Developed terrible pneumonia in a day and a half. We had to bring him to the ER. The saw tiny nodules a month before, but now bigger, more with one possibly on a rib
- Eye became red, tumor caused
- Rapid internal blood loss, extreme lethargy and weakness, white gums, no appetite
- Lameness of back legs and incontinence
How Did You Treat Metastasis, If At All?
- Resected lump and tried metronomic therapy
- yes – she had already had chemo, we added in metronomic therapy
- Yes – we switched to a different chemo protocol
- Yes we changed from Carboplatin to Doxorubicin
- stopped chemo & started metronomics
Changed to Palladia (5 responses)
Of those who switched to Palladia, all had osteosarcoma with the longest survival time of 13 months & two weeks. The four others were only on it one month before side effects became too great or the cancer advanced too quickly.
- Yes. Chemo was discontinued and palladia was started.
- Yes. Started metronomics with palladia
- Commenced metronomic chemo (Palladia). Originally had IV chemo after surgery and initial diagnosis (carboplatin – 4 rounds).
- Yes and no. We continued with the medication Sasha was taking and the radiation, but added Palladia.
- Yes. Added Palladia to the treatment protocol.
- No. He finished chemo months earlier
- No….once metastatic, this cancer kills quickly
- no – she had just finished her last chemo the week prior
Stopped Treatment Altogether (4)
- Yes- No further treatment.
- We stopped chemo because it wasn’t working.
- Yes. We stopped immediately as the meds most likely either made him nauseous to aspirate and cause the pneumonia or compromise his immune system to not fight the pneumonia
- Yes. We stopped chemotherapy once it had metastasizes to his lungs.
- Yes. The initial tumor was in her toe, so her toe was amputated first. “Good” margins were achieved, so the treatment protocol was to do nothing, but to keep a close eye for lumps/bumps and/or a limp. When the metastasis was discovered, her leg was amputated followed by chemotherapy.
- I did intend to proceed with metronomic therapy, but for various reasons (one being a UTI), ust did it two weeks and then stopped. I did continue with just Piroxicam for a short time. Eventually I just stuck with some Tramadol and Prednisone, all of which seemingly added to her quality. I’d like to add that, there was actually a little heightened relief when metronomics didn’t work out. It meant no more blood work, poking, prodding, vet trips for Happy Hannah…..car rides now were all about having fun going through drive thru and getting burgers and ice cream!
- Liver & spleen were fully involved & internal bleeding was discovered. We had to euthanize the next day.
- Sam had completed all 6 prescribed chemo treatments. The metastasis was to the iliac crest and since his left front leg had already been amputated, he could not walk. We had to put him to sleep.
- She was put down
Longevity After Metastasis Was Discovered?
- She didn’t survive
- We decided that day to let him go. They could have put him on O2, and IV antibiotics, but there was good chance he wouldn’t get better. Also, if he did, the breathing problems and the potential of a broken rib/perforated lung were not things I was willing to chance putting him thru
- One day. He had no symptoms & then stopped eating one weekend. We went to the vet Monday & his scans showed that liver & spleen were “covered” in tumors.
- 3 days.
- Approximately 1 week from confirmed diagnosis, approximately 3 weeks from the start of symptoms.
- less than a week
- 2 weeks
- 3 weeks
- Less than 1 month
- 1 month at most, till her death
- One month
- 30 days 🙁
- 1.5 months
- Mets found August 1, 2014 and Hunter passed away September 15, 2014.
- 2 months
- She survived 3 months post diagnosis of metastasis. Palladia was ceased one month after commencing as developed severe vasiculitis.
- Xrays and ultrasound were clear for 1st and 2nd surgery. Had to put him down 3.5 months after 2nd surgery. Stopped chemo after 3rd tumor and began pallative holistic care.
- Happy Hannah will forever live in my heart and soul!:-) Although Happy Hannah’s time on earth ended approximately three months after official xray diagnosis, I want to add that clearly she had the met for several months before. I say that because “it” was the size of a “baseball” the vet said (I wouldn’t look at the xray because I refused to let that “image” invade my thoughts)! The point I want to make is that in no way is a “diagnosis” an immediate “ending”. Happy Hannah and I shared many more months of exquisitely glorious and magical moments seared in my soul forever! We were so lucky!
- Still going 7 months later.
- 6-8 months, I’d have to double check dates
- 7 3/4 months. From March 1, 2013- Aug 20, 2013
- 8 months
- 10 months
- limb removed, cancer gone hasn’t returned. 1yr 9 months since removal
- Still surviving; prognosis was that she would live another 30-60 days from now (one month after metastasis confirmed
- She survived 2 years and 2 weeks after initial diagnosis; so 13 months and 2 weeks after 1st metastasis.
- still surviving
- still surviving, will be one year in November.
- Still living 120 days
- Still surviving!
If you could change anything about your treatment protocol during metastasis, what would it be?
Not Sure (2)
- We were told nothing could be done.
- There was nothing I would change, our vet handled it with urgent care.
- Nothing. Hardest thing I ever did was decide to be done
- nothing; we did what we could
- Nothing. Surgery was not an option (inoperable tumour, too large) and no noticeable pain or discomfort as of yet.
- Nothing – we did everything right.
- The metastasis was confirmed after 6 chemo treatments. None of the options afterward offered hope of longer life or less pain.
- We did everything, no mets when we started, they developed during chemo treatment. I don’t know what we could have done.
- I would change ANYTHING if I could have.
- I would only change when a couple of her radiation treatments were administered, and instead of taking her to NCSU for her post-vaccine check-ups (she was participating in the Mason Bone Cancer Study (1st phase)) I would have taken her to Philly.
- More X-rays and ultrasounds
- finding the perfect balance of prednisone for his care sooner
- Not sure there was anything else we could do. All possible reasonable options (short of additional invasive surgery etc.) were pursued.
- I don’t know of other protocols with any better odds for this cancer.
- Chemo/Radiation after amputation… but then he was already 9 year old Great Dane Mix… He did unexpectedly better than expected by the vets. He did not have any symptoms except slowed activity toward the end… and the eventual diminished quality of life.
- We did exactly what we felt was best – treating the symptoms knowing there wasn’t much else we could do. When the time came, we let him go peacefully with our vet via euthanasia.
- I would have started metronomic earlier
- With her hemangiosarcoma, I would have added some other treatment after initial chemo treatments to possibly and hopefully, help slow down any metastasis.
- we would not have even done the initial chemo
- I would not have started Palladia and would have just kept her as comfortable as possible. The Palldia threw her metabolism off and necessitated more meds to stop bloody diarrhea, etc. I wish I had asked about injectable pain and anti-nausea meds so we didn’t have to shove pills down.
- Perhaps elicit the advice of a Holistic Vet and add a more precise holistic protocal.
- Maybe trying another chemo. But over all I did what I could do for her
- Meds to protect the stomach and maybe would have to think long and hard about doing Palladia. More painkillers and more pushing the oncologist when I knew things weren’t right.
As you can see, everyone’s story is different and there are no right or wrong ways to deal with cancer mets in dogs and cats. All we can do is our best and make choices that take our animal’s best quality of life into consideration. You can see every anonymous response in the following document, which we had to copy/paste from SurveyMonkey because we don’t have a paid membership (yet).
We want to do more of these informative surveys and would pay for SurveyMonkey if someone has spare time they can volunteer to lead projects like this. If that’s you, drop us a line!
Other Tripawds Community Surveys:
Tripawds Quality of Life Survey Tells All
CSU Survey Assesses Risk of Orthopedic Disorders in Canine Amputees
First 2013 Tripawds Survey Results: Long-Term Osteosarcoma Survivors
Tripawds Three Legged Dog Survey Tells All
Survey Results: Who’s Doing Chemo? Who’s Not?
Survey Results: A Tripawd’s New Normal