Toots, the a 9 year old Staffy came to see Dr Nick Lai and Dr Sandra Nguyen from the SASH Animal Cancer Centre with a nasty looking lump on her muzzle. At first, her parents thought it was a bee sting, but after not going away for a while they became concerned.
After a series of tests at Pet Medical Milsons Point, it was confirmed that Toots had a mast cell tumour. While mast cells are a part of the immune system that are responsible for allergic reactions (like the itching and swelling you get with a mozzie bite) in dogs mast cell tumours are one of the most common skin tumours we see.
While mast cell tumours can usually be removed with surgery, for Toots this wasn’t possible because of the location of the tumour on her face. After reviewing a number of treatment options available at SASH, it was decided that radiation therapy would be the better approach for her. Radiation therapy uses a linear accelerator or LINAC, the same as you would find in a human cancer centre. The machine is capable of using very precise beams of intense radiation to kill cancer cells while reducing the amount of damage to healthy cells around the tumour.
Thankfully in this case, Toots’ tumour was visibly smaller after a single treatment. Then after four treatments, it has almost completely disappeared, which is a fantastic outcome for a fantastic dog!