See that lump on Zeus' right front leg? It may be cancer... it may not be.
I'm actually surprised no one has commented on the lump here or over on Facebook (my sister thought he looked a bit thin in a photo last week, but I honestly think it was just a "thin angle" -- you know, the one all of us humans hope to nail in our selfies?). This is one of many lumps Zeus has had for years, and we've had the vet do needle aspirations on it a few times before, only to be told the cells looked much like all of his other non-cancerous fatty lumps (my big boy is full of them... he's been quite lumpty-dumpty for most of his life). However, it has grown considerably over the past year or so. If you ask me, I think I can see it actually growing inches right in front of my eyes. Although, I know that's not the case as in mid January the lump was 2" x 2.5" and two weeks ago it was 2.5" x 3" .... so yes, it is indeed growing, but not at the rate I swore to the vet it was.
So, back to the possible "C" word. Our vet did another needle aspiration of the lump back in January and sent the slide out to the lab. While the results are inconclusive, we did find out:
The mesenchymal cells have a mild degree of atypia. These cells could be from a soft tissue sarcoma (such as hemangiopericytoma, fibrosarcoma, or nerve sheath tumor), but they may also be reactive fibroblasts present from fibrosis.The report goes on to state that it's difficult to differentiate between the two without evaluation of the tissue architecture, and it recommends biopsy and histopathology.
After weighing the pros and cons, we have decided not to do a biopsy. I'm simply not willing to take the risk of putting Zeus under for the surgery. While our vet does not think his age is a high risk factor, as I do, she does share my worries for the other factors involved: his liver issues, mega esophagus, and the fact that she was not sure how well the wound would close up on his leg (i.e. a possible lack of skin to cover the incision). Besides his age, my biggest fear is that he would aspirate or have another issue due to his mega esophagus. If the lump is indeed a soft tissue sarcoma (aka the "C" word), she says it is not very likely it would spread to his organs, however it is very likely that it would come back, even if we did remove the lump. Plus, we had one of those non-cancerous fatty lumps removed when he was a youngster and he had a bad reaction to the sutures. So, we've opted to watch it. The vet says it could get rather large and ugly, but she feels we are far more likely to be forced to make decisions down the road from his mega esophagus than from this. Please keep those paws crossed for my big guy, as I certainly hope I do not have to make any decisions for a long, long time.
Just before I started typing this post, I was downloading photos for a review and came across the pics I snapped of Zeus last week. He was modeling the latest knit hat I finished (in a Samoyed dog hair yarn blend mind you). I just can't help but smile and laugh out loud at the above shot. It's totally my big boy saying "Cancer Schmancer, I got this!"