Lumps and Bumps!
This is Gunner.
He came in for his annual health check and booster where we noticed a small lump on the inside of his ear. It looked quite innocent and had been present for a while but was growing. As a first step a fine needle aspirate was performed. This involves sticking a needle in the lump with a syringe attached and sucking back to get a harvest of cells. They are squirted on a slide and sent to the lab for analysis. The advantage of this procedure is it is well tolerated conscious and can often give a diagnosis, so we know if an anaesthetic is necessary to remove the lump.
When the lab report came back, it told us that the lump was a mast cell tumour. These can be nasty cancers that spread far and wide on a microscopic level from the main mass. Therefore, we always remove them with the widest margin of normal looking tissue possible to make sure we remove it all. In Gunners case, this meant amputating his ear.
Before the anaesthetic, we ran blood tests to check it would be safe. These were all normal. Gunner was anaesthetised and his head shaved so we didn’t get hair in the surgical wound. His ear was amputated close to his head to get the best margins of normal looking tissue possible. A pressure bandage was placed on his head to help with post op bleeding. Gunner made an uneventful recovery and his ear healed well.
The amputated ear was sent off to the lab for analysis. A few days later the results came back. It was a grade 1 mast cell tumour which is the least aggressive type possible. They are usually confined locally and don’t spread. It was completely removed, with very wide margins of excision and a good prognosis. So good news!!
This case shows the importance of the annual health check as this is when we spotted Gunners cancer. It also shows how important it is to check out a lump, no matter how innocent it may appear. Cases like this are expensive and can happen to any pet, so always consider pet insurance. Further details are available.