We took Chaos to MedVet yesterday afternoon for a consultation with their radiation oncology department. They gave Chaos a thorough examination and went over all his recent medical records, including the x-rays and blood work. We then sat down with the head of the department for the next two hours and talked about the cancer and our options.
First off, they showed us the CT scan of the tumor. To my untrained eyes, it looked massive. It is blocking the majority of his right side nostril back up into his right eye socket and is starting to press into the left nasal cavity. Still, the doctor was optimistic while still being realistic.
She laid out all our options, going into each one in detail. She told us exactly what we could expect depending on how we chose to proceed. It was not an easy conversation. More than once my wife and I teared up.
Given all the factors in front of us, we’ve elected to proceed with an intermediate level of radiation therapy. This is more than just palliative therapy, where the goal is simply to minimize discomfort for a few months, but is less than a full course of aggressive therapy. In a full course of aggressive radiation therapy the acute side effects are severe- ulcers in the mouth, loss of skin and hair, temporary problems with eyesight. We felt that with Chaos’s age, he would not handle these side effects well.
Before you demonize me for not doing enough, know this. The course we have chosen for him is a relatively new treatment regime. MedVet uses state of the art mega-voltage machines. These are far more advanced than what was available as little as ten years ago. The few studies that have been done regarding intermediate radiation therapy have been very promising. Over 50% of dogs treated in this manner will live over a year to a year and a half. A full course of radiation treatment gives only slightly better odds.
My puppy boy grew up hanging out with dice-throwing gamers. I think he can beat the odds.