Sometimes the cancer can appear elsewhere, and the jaw is one of those places.
This growth developed on the front end of the mandibles, the lower jaw bones. It rapidly turned into a very unsightly mess and started forcing the lower incisors out of the mouth.
Champ was referred to our hospital in Pukekohe for surgical treatment. Normally when we remove a bone tumour-affected bone, the whole bone must be removed, but this isn’t really possible when it’s the jawbone that’s affected.
So, we opted to remove the mass itself, plus cutting enough bone away that we were at least a couple of centimetres away from the edges of the tumour as seen on the x-ray below. This means sawing through the jawbone on each side, then being a little creative with skin surgery to recreate the lips.
Because we didn’t want Champ chewing on food for a while, we also placed a tube in the side of his neck, that went down to the stomach. This is then used for giving liquid food and medications, thereby protecting the surgical wound.
Champ did very well after surgery, and two weeks later came back for the stitches to be removed.
Unfortunately, Champ's prognosis is still guarded, as even with successful surgery, the tumour can still grow back in time. Chemotherapy may also prolong his time with us.
But the surgery removed a foul-smelling, painful mass from the mouth that interfered with his willingness and ability to eat. His quality of life has improved, and his family can enjoy what time is left with a much happier pet.
Dr Paul Eason BVM&S MANZCVS