We were able to do Amber's scope and biopsy last week Monday and got the results on Friday. She DOES have transitional cell carcinoma. So the bladder tumor antigen test was not correct. It does say there is a 90% rate of accuracy so I guess we fell in that 10%.
I was so not expecting that. I mean I thought about it, I had read about it a little, knew that it was the most common cancer of the urinary tract but that it was fairly uncommon in general. I somehow didn't actually think that MY dog could have it!
So now what? She is still acting normal except for having to pee a lot. It is not in an area that is easily accessed for removal (it's in her urethra), and these tumors don't respond much to chemotherapy. So she is on Deramaxx, used as an anti-inflammatory. The most common drug used to treat TCC is Piroxicam which is also an NSAID (non steroidal anti-inflammatory) but that is an older drug with more gastrointestinal side effects than Deramaxx. I will have to watch her carefully to make sure she can still pee and that it's not blocked off from tumor growth. If that happens I have a very short amount of time to get her to a vet to put in a catheter to empty the bladder and then we can put in a urinary stent to open up the passageway again. That will only last approximately six months according to my vet, and then it's the end I guess.
Information online says it is linked to chemical exposure like flea dips, bug sprays, lawn fertilizers, things like that. In humans it is linked to second hand smoke. I have always been one of those people that is very cautious with chemicals, I don't fertilize my lawn (but that's because I'm too cheap to buy food for my lawn when I could be buying food for us or the dogs and I don't care about the dandelions), I don't use pesticides, I buy environmentally friendly dish soap. I DON'T smoke. I HAVE brought the dogs to various parks near our house at least three times a week when we can't get to the foothills and I'm sure they don't use fertilizer that is safe for kids and pets (why????). I keep thinking of that woman who saw Amber swimming in the canal one summer day and said "you let your dog swim in that nasty water?". At the time I thought she was just being overly cautious, now I wish I could go back and be more careful with where I took them to play.
I know it's possible that it's genetic and wasn't caused by environmental toxins but I can't help but want to know where it started. One little carcinogenic piece of something she licked off her feet that lodged itself in the lining of her urethra and stayed there.
Another thing I read was that feeding yellow/green veggies at least 3 times a week, steamed and pureed, had some influence on reducing a dog's likely hood of getting this cancer (a study done on Scottish Terriers who are the breed most likely to get this). So eat your veggies, people! I've been making myself a breakfast smoothie and the dogs get a little on their food every morning. I make it without the banana first and then add the banana after they get their share. It is one banana, a handful of spinach or baby greens (organic), a few leaves of either oregano or parsley from my garden and lately I've been adding a few slices of zucchini and some ground flaxseed then add water. REALLY it tastes pretty good. Maybe I've just gotten used to it.
Anyway...Amber says she hates the vet. I took this picture for our website at work.