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Surviving Two Types of Pet Cancer with Help From CARES


Jackson is one lucky dog. He has been a happy, fun-loving Golden Retriever that his family loves beyond limits. He lives in beautiful Pennington, NJ, enjoying the great outdoors with his family. He loves to go on walks and is a constant loyal companion. Now, he is a two-time cancer survivor.

Jackson’s first bout with cancer came the day after he turned 10 years old.   His owners awoke to Jackson convulsing uncontrollably beside their bed having his first seizure.   His family rushed him to CARES, where he was stabilized and his case was taken over by Dr. Ed Darrin, CARES’ board certified veterinary neurologist.

Dr. Darrin was concerned that start of seizures late in life would be secondary to something serious. An MRI was performed and Jackson was found to have an inoperable brain tumor in the middle of his brain.   His owners did not give up hope and with the recommendation of Dr. Darrin they took Jackson for treatment of the brain tumor with cyberknife (multi-beam targeted radiation therapy) that targeted the cancer without hurting surrounding brain tissue. Jackson was also given anti-seizure medications.   He responded well to therapy and returned to his normal self.

Thirteen months later Jackson came to CARES with a urinary tract infection. During his work up, which included chest radiographs, a pulmonary mass was discovered on his lung. His owners did not treat the lung tumor immediately. But when Jackson started to develop a dry cough, his family consulted with CARES’ board certified veterinary oncologists to see if something could be done to help him.

Jackson had a complete medical work up. The MRI of his brain showed the brain tumor to be stable. A CT scan showed the new tumor to be 4cm by 2.5cm in size and was in the left cranial lung lobe (see Figure 1). Thoracoscopic removal was recommended and Jackson’s owners were ecstatic that they could do something to help him.

Thoracoscopic surgery allows minimally invasive surgery in the chest with the use of a camera attached to a rigid scope and instruments that are introduced through tiny incisions into the chest. It has been shown that minimally invasive surgery results in a shortened hospital stay, reduced postoperative pain, reduced stress and improved immune function.

Thoracic surgery is a major procedure for any patient and requires a team approach. Dr. Andrea Caniglia, CARES board certified veterinary anesthesiologist led the anesthetic team. They performed one-lung ventilation where only one side of the lungs is selectively ventilated. This allowed the non-ventilated lung to collapse and greatly increased the working space for the thoracoscopic procedure.   Dr. David Puerto, CARES Chief of surgery, led the surgical team.   The lung tumor was successfully removed through small incisions (see Figure 2).

Jackson recovered in the intensive care unit. Dr. Suzanne Dempsey, Chief of emergency and critical care, and the nursing team at CARES monitored his recovery.   Jackson’s recovery was remarkable. He seemed very comfortable and had no complications. He was able to be discharged two days post operatively.   The lung tumor was confirmed to be a slow growing pulmonary carcinoma and carries a good prognosis with complete resection.

The owners reported that Jackson was quickly back to his old tricks, playing and enjoying the great outdoors. They were delighted that we were able to able to remove the tumor with minimally invasive techniques making his recovery faster and more comfortable.

CARES is pleased to offer many minimally invasive surgery options for the chest, abdomen and joints to our pet patients! To learn more, feel free to call us at 215-750-2774.

By:  David Puerto, DVM, DACVS

 Endoscopic stapling device placed for removal of left cranial lung mass.
Figure 2: Endoscopic stapling device placed for removal of left cranial lung mass.
CT scan with contrast: Mass in left cranial lung lobe.
Figure 1: CT scan with contrast: Mass in left cranial lung lobe.
Jackson with CARES neurology nurse, Kat Devine, during a visit to CARES.
Jackson with CARES neurology nurse, Kat Devine, during a visit to CARES.