Those two nearly impossible to pronounce words are the name of the cancer my dog, Monty, was diagnosed with this week.
Last Thursday (on February 9), I took Monty to the vet for a light dental procedure to remove a chipped tooth and to have the vet look at a bump that had shown up a few days prior between two of Monty’s front teeth. The consult before his dental was jarring, as I learned from my vet that she was concerned the bump was a cancerous mass. We agreed to fully anesthetize Monty so she could take x-rays of his jaw bones, and fully remove the mass. His surgery went well, with the vet removing all four of Monty’s front teeth (he just wanted to be like his toothless sister!). The x-rays showed no sign of cancer and the mass was sent in to be tested. I learned this Thursday (February 16) that it had come back positive.
From what I can find on acanthomatous ameloblastoma, it seems that if one had to get mouth cancer, this is the one to get. This type of tumor does not metastasize (spread to other areas), but will attack the bone and teeth in the mouth. The good news is, according to University of Pennsylvania’s vet school, “The prognosis is generally excellent with complete surgical removal.” Early detection is also important, and I believe we succeeded in that as the tumor was only about the size of a small pea.
The cause of this cancer is unknown, however “it is thought to be seen more in male large breed dogs (like German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers) and dogs that are of middle to old age (over five years old).” Monty falls under both of those categories in this case, being 10 years old and a border collie mix with shepherd definitely part of the mix).
Chemo cannot battle it, but radiation does work. The research I have done shows that the first step is to surgically remove the tumor (we have done that), and then possible radiation treatments to push for remission. From what I can see, remission is possible and if achieved, life expectancy should not be altered.
Our regular vet is on a wait and see pattern for when the tumor returns (she stated it won’t be an if, but a when) so we can determine how aggressive the cancer truly is. I also am on the waiting list for a consult with CSU’s canine cancer center to see if further surgery and/or radiation are the path to take to achieve remission, as well as am waiting for a referral to a canine dental specialist (in case Monty needs to have some of his jaw bone removed in this process). The CSU appointment should be in early to mid March.
I will use this platform to keep record of our journey and battle. Right now, Monty’s quality of life is 100% and that is what I am focusing on now that I’ve had time to react/process/cry like an idiot. We will continue to research this condition and it’s treatments, and visit with doctors to ensure we can keep that quality of life as high as possible for as long as possible. And we will continue our morning games of fetch (once his mouth is healed, of course), our evening walks, our bedtime snuggles, and our weekend adventures.
~Jenna & Monty