In many of our pets, a solitary lung tumor is diagnosed on a regular visit to the primary care veterinarian office for annual exam. Lung tumors initially grow slowly and may not show any clinical signs in your pet.
How is a lung tumor diagnosed?
You, your family veterinarian and Dr Jha (Board Certified Surgeon) will use multiple diagnostic modalities to properly diagnose your pet. You may notice a slight difficulty in breathing, exercise intolerance and coughing. Your primary care veterinarian will do a physical exam and X-rays to begin the diagnosis. We may further add a bronchoscopic examination of the trachea to collect samples. Dr Jha and his team will also recommend that a CT scan of the lungs should be performed for surgical planning purposes.
How is lung tumor treated?
Surgical resection of the lung tumor is highly recommended in cases where there are no metastatic lesions. In a pet where there are only one or two lung masses diagnosed, a minimally invasive surgery or open chest surgery is performed to remove the cancerous portion of the lung lobe.
Minimally Invasive Approach Via Thorascopy
During this surgery, a camera is introduced in the chest along with 2-3 smaller instruments and lung tumor is removed with a smaller window created on the side of the chest. Advantages of this approach is quick healing and early return to normal activity. On rare occasions, a thoracoscopic surgery may be converted into an open chest surgery.
Open chest surgery: A midline approach through sternum or an approach between ribs are made to access the diseased lung lobe. The tumor is then removed with help of a TA stapler.
Infection, pneumonia/breathing difficulties, bleeding, chylothorax can happen post surgery.
Once our patients are recovered they should continue care via an oncologist for further treatment. Depending on the grade of tumor and it’s spread, a good quality of life can be expected for about 1-1.5 years.