Surgical Oncology + Radiation Oncology + Medical Oncology
+ Toby's Story - Oral Tumour
Toby was four old years when he was first seen at BVSC. He is a miniature fox terrier cross who was referred by Buderim Veterinary Surgery for a swelling under the right eye that had been slowly getting bigger and was not responding to antibiotics. His vet then found a tumour affecting his upper jaw. A biopsy confirmed he had Acanthomatous Ameloblastoma (AA), a type of oral cancer.
Toby’s Mum, Emily, would like to share his story to raise awareness that cancer may be effectively treated with wonderful outcomes. She hopes that Toby’s story will encourage others to seek early help for their very much loved pets if they get a similar problem.
The diagnosis was frightening but Emily was very grateful that her vet referred her to BVSC for Toby’s care. The Surgical Oncologists explained that although AA was one of the four most common cancers dog can get in their mouths it could be effectively treated. The choice was either primary radiation therapy or, the more commonly performed, wide excision surgery. Either way Toby needed a CT scan.
The veterinarians at BVCS carefully explained what was involved and gave a detailed treatment plan with all the costs so that there were no surprises. All the way along there was understandable explanations and communication even with diagrams and drawings on a white board!
Toby was handled calmly and gently. Even from the first moment he stepped into the Specialist Clinic at BVSC with its bright, welcoming rooms and smiling staff, Toby seemed to know that he did not need to be afraid. After careful discussion and thought, surgery was chosen for Toby.
It was such a relief to know that with complete surgical removal this cancer can be cured. Knowing that the team at BVSC had the skills and knowledge to not only successfully perform this very involved surgery but that they were able to minimise any pain was a great comfort and the anxiety of the cancer diagnosis began to wash away.
The next day, Toby had his CT.
This is a three dimensional reconstruction of Toby’s skull from his CT scan. The arrows point to his cancer and the dotted lines represent where the surgeons plan to cut the bone to completely remove the AA leaving no cancer behind.
Toby’s surgery went very well. The specimen removed was evaluated by specialist veterinary pathologists at QML and they were happy that the surgeons had completely removed the cancer. The surgeons had carefully rebuilt his mouth so that, even though many teeth were removed with some upper jaw and the bone under his eye, he was able to eat normally and he recovered comfortably with no effects to his eye. He even looked normal with no more lump. Emily was kept informed all the way by the surgeons, residents, nurses and reception staff at BVSC. Emily said that the kindness and professionalism shown at BVSC made this tough journey possible.
Today, one year and nine months later, Toby continues to be a happy, active and very lovable boy. He is cancer free. He goes to his vets at Buderim Veterinary Surgery for his routine dental and health check-ups. Toby’s referring vets have been included all the way and have received phone calls and emailed written reports from the BVSC specialists. With this knowledge and guidance, they can ensure Toby continues to have the best veterinary care possible. Toby’s owner could not be happier and neither could Toby.
Advice from Toby's Mum is to others is not to panic when faced with a cancer diagnosis. She feared the whole process of cancer treatment and was not sure she wanted to put Toby through it. Even though Emily thought the worst and felt like she was going to lose her baby and she said that “Googling” for answers only made it worse, however, it was not until her vet told her to see the team at BVSC that she started to feel better.
Toby’s Mum advises anyone to get a referral and that meeting the specialists at BVSC allowed her to get information to make the right decisions. She felt empowered and able to help Toby with the trust she found in BVSC. It paid off and she knows it can also pay off for many other wonderful pets with cancer.
+ Advice from Dr Straw
“You know, years ago we did not know how to effectively treat any cancers in animals but things are very different now. Just take oral cancers in dogs for instance. Toby luckily had the lowest grade serious oral cancer and we have developed surgical procedures to cure this cancer, just like the procedure Toby had. Not only is the cancer cured but his quality of life is maintained and Toby is not handicapped at all after his big surgery called an infraorbitectomy/maxillectomy. The other common oral cancers in dogs are malignant melanoma, fibrosarcoma and oral squamous cell carcinoma. We have ways of treating all of these cancers now and our team can talk you through the processes to hopefully arrive at great outcomes just like Toby. Your vet will know that a referral to BVSC can be life saving for your pet with cancer.”
Thank you to Toby and to his Mum, Emily, for sharing his story and giving encouragement to others to seek the right advice and care as early as possible.
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