White Dog looked concerned as we headed out this morning to Dr. Julia's with Ferguson. She put on a bright wag and positive attitude as she led the rest of the White Dog Army in sending him off with good thoughts and reinforcement that things will be fine.
Once at our vet's office, Ferguson went to the back for a series of head and skull xrays. It was our goal to determine if the cancer had invaded bone in his mouth, beyond the tumor site we had all ready dealt with and to agree upon a course of treatment.
We were concerned because our boy has been having trouble with sort of nasal congested labored breathing. We held our breaths and prayed that his breathing was not to be impaired by the c monster.
Together, Ferg in my arms and Dr. Julia at the computer screen, we viewed the x-ray series. She zoomed in on the area that is the bone arch under his eye...just beyond where the surgery had been done. There was a tumor embedded in that bone, larger than the one removed, not yet affecting the eye. But there were no others. And the nasal passages were congested but clear of disease.
"We cannot predict what direction the tumor will grow," Dr. Julia explained, "whether it will push up into the eye or stretch along the jaw. This is more common to oral cancer I have seen in cats." We agreed that the tumor could not be surgically removed without sacrificing most of his face and thus significantly change his quality of life. Chemotherapy has little proven long term effectiveness in oral growths. And radiation? My vet and I agree that radiation therapy as it is applied is at doses too low to be very effective in these cases. "No one would be happy if radiation was given at a curative dosing if their pet lost all of its hair and suffered side effects as a result."
So we have added piroxicam, an NSAID used for inflammation and pain management. Piroxicam is used within a variety of protocols to treat TCC, squamous cell carcinoma (oral and cutaneous). We have put our boy on an ultra low glucose diet enriched with a mushroom compound and fermented wheat germ. The game plan right now is to slow the growth as much as possible and run new xrays in a month.
Additionally, we are giving Ferguson O2 therapy, time in the oxygen kennel. Our thinking is that cancer cells prefer low oxygen environments so giving our Lover of Life time in an oxygen saturated environment will aid the fight to slow things down.
We have no idea how aggressive this will be but Dr. Julia called his situation Palliative rather than Hospice...and that gives all of us the strength to fight with a positive attitude.