Fibrosarcoma (FSA) in Dogs (Bone)
In-depth Information on Diagnosis
Your veterinarian will perform a complete medical history and a thorough physical examination. Medical tests are needed to establish the diagnosis, exclude other diseases, and determine the impact of fibrosarcoma on your dog.
Complete physical exam. A thorough exam is necessary not only to localize the site of the cancer but also to asses your pet’s general health. Your pet’s general condition may drastically influence the recommended treatment options.
X-rays of the affected body part. X-rays allow us to take pictures of the bones inside the body. This is a procedure that can be performed in almost all veterinary hospitals, and there is no risk to your pet. In some pets, a mild tranquilizer or anesthesia may be recommended.
Complete blood cell count (CBC). This test can determine if inflammation, infection or anemia is present.
Biochemical blood profile. This is a blood test to assess the general health of the body organs such as the liver and kidneys and levels of electrolytes (minerals) in the blood. Abnormalities noted in certain levels of this screening test might suggest dysfunction of these organs, which may or may not be associated to the spread of the cancer.
Urinalysis. This test can help determine the health of the kidneys and the pet’s hydration status.
Biopsy of the tumor. This is an essential procedure to make a definitive diagnosis of bone cancer. It is done while your pet is under anesthesia as bone biopsy is generally painful.
Radiographs of the chest/lungs. Although it is uncommon for this type of cancer to spread, X-rays of the chest are usually taken prior to doing any kind of surgery to assess your pet’s general health.
In-depth Information on Therapy
Surgery. The most common approach to the treatment of fibrosarcoma involves removal of the tumor along with normal surrounding tissues. Because fibrosarcoma most commonly effects the legs, this poses many difficulties with advanced disease. This is the best means of removing the burden of the cancer and for most animals it will result in abolishing the pain caused by the cancer. Most animals spend at least one day in the hospital postoperatively.
At home, your pet will need to be highly restricted in his activity until the surgical site heals and the sutures/staples are removed, usually after 10 to 14 days. During this time, your pet should be restricted from climbing stairs unattended, jumping or playing. You will need to keep the surgical site clean and dry. Most animals go home on some form of pain control. Any questions that you have about your pet during the postoperative period should be discussed with your veterinarian. Once healing has occurred your pet can resume exercising gradually. It is surprising to most owners that most animals feel so much better with the cancer being gone that they are acting normally within 2 to 3 days postoperatively.
Chemotherapy. Because this type of cancer rarely spreads, chemotherapy is rarely prescribed. If it does spread, chemotherapy is initiated in the postoperative period after healing has occurred and the sutures/staples have been removed. During chemotherapy drugs are given as intravenous injections following a set schedule of every three weeks for a total of 4 to 6 doses. There are many different types of chemotherapy drugs and your veterinarian is likely to refer you to a veterinary oncologist in your area who can advise you on treatment options. The most commonly utilized drugs are cisplatin, carboplatin and adriamycin. All of these treatments have about the same impact on prolonging survival to about 10 to 12 months from diagnosis.
Radiation therapy. A beam of radiation is directed at the tumor resulting in pain relief. It is a highly specialized treatment available in select referral veterinary centers and is prescribed in very select cases, usually when a pet has existing conditions that disqualify him for surgery. It typically involves three treatments given over a three week period, but with some oral tumors a full course of daily treatments is recommended.
Pain medications. For those that choose not to pursue any of the above treatments, the administration of both narcotic and non-narcotic anti-inflammatory drugs can help in making your pet more comfortable for some period of time.
Follow-up Care for Dogs with Bone Fibrosarcoma
Optimal treatment of your dog requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your pet does not rapidly improve. Administer all prescribed medications as directed. Alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your dog.
Your veterinarian should prescribe pain medications to assure your dog’s comfort either prior to definitive diagnosis and/or in the aftercare period from surgery as discussed above. This can be through the use of pills or narcotic pain patches placed on the skin that release a constant level of pain medications across the skin.
You should limit activity of your dog to prevent further pain and to prevent a pathologic fracture prior to definitive therapy. Your pet should not run, jump or play during this time and you should watch carefully or give assistance when they are climbing stairs, or getting in and out of the car.