Sunday, July 01, 2007

PSA from Smudge...

For those of you following along at home, our cat Gandalf was diagnosed with cancer (vaccine associated sarcoma or VAS) about 6 weeks ago. VAS is a fibrosarcoma that develops at the site of a vaccination, and affects cats almost exclusively. Gandalf's was caused by his rabies vaccine. Thankfully, our vet followed the proper vaccination protocols (rabies vaccines are to be given as far down the leg as possible), so we were able to give our guy a chance at beating the cancer.

He's had two surgeries. The first was a biopsy and tissue excision aimed at getting not just the tumor, but the surrounding tissue. These cancers have a tendency to put out these fingers or tentacles, so the aim with the first surgery is to get the tumor, the invisible tentacles and still have 'clean' margins of tissue that measure at least 3 cms.

Gandalf lost a LOT of muscle in the first surgery, and we were hopeful it would do the job. Alas, it did not. He did recover very well from that first surgery, so we knew he was strong and healthy, and could withstand a second surgery.

Two and a half weeks ago, Gandalf's right hind leg was amputated. Since the rabies vaccine was given low on his leg, this was an option for him. Gandalf seemed to bounce back pretty well from the amputation, but he did develop a pretty disgusting infection which we have since beaten back.

As of today, 6/26/06, Gandalf is free of infection AND cancer. He's doing very well on his three legs--I guess the fourth was a spare? Once his fur grows back, it won't be so obvious that he's a tripod. Gandalf is still running, jumping and playing without any real difficulties. Now, we just hope the cancer stays gone.

If you do have a cat or cats, make sure that your vet is following proper vaccine protocols--most importantly, NO SHOTS in the scruff of the neck, or high on the front or back legs. Tumors that may develop in those areas can't be excised as easily, and amputation may not be an option. There isn't any real solid data on how often VAS develops, but it is primarily associated with rabies and feline leukemia vaccinations and the adjuvant used to stimulate the immune reaction. There is one rabies vaccine on the market that does NOT use any adjuvants--Purevax. More info on vaccines for your cat(s), including recommended locations for administering the shots, if you're interested, is available here.

That is the situation on the ground. Thanks for the support. It's been a really frustrating and stressful experience for us. And probably for Gandalf, too. What with the surgeries and the amputation and all.

Many thanks and all our best-
Stephanie, Eric and Gandalf the Tabby.

No comments: