We met with an oncologist this afternoon to get a handle on Bacchus’ prognosis. She painted a much bleaker picture than the surgeon. He indeed has lymphoma, but based on the fact that it was in an internal organ, she believes that it is probably the more difficult “T-cell” strain. The “B-cell” variety is generally more apparent as lumps under the skin. We’re still waiting for the lab results to say for certain, but we went ahead and started a chemotherapy program today.
Bacchus will be getting weekly chemo treatment for perhaps the next 4-5 months. Oy vay. We’re well past the point where most sane people decide that they can’t justify paying for that kind of treatment for a pet, but we just can’t make ourselves let go. He is still very much a happy and energetic dog. We can only hope that he battles this thing into remission, and gets back to a reasonable quality of life soon.
If it is indeed T-cell, the odds of success are not all that good. The doctor said that a typical patient could expect to be in remission for about 6 months after the first course of chemo. What we didn’t realize is that “remission” begins from the moment they see the cancer cells pull back, which if all goes well will happen in the first month or so of treatment. That means that Bacchus would be looking at 2-3 months after wrapping up chemo before the cancer comes back, and with T-cell lymphoma, the follow-on treatments are much more difficult.
Apparently, either type of lymphoma develops very quickly. The doctor thought that left untreated, Bacchus would have 2-6 weeks until he was right back in the position he was in prior to surgery, only this time, he is going in with 20cm less intestine. It is entirely possible that Bacchus won’t react well to his chemo course, or that the lab results indicate we’re dealing with something pretty malicious, in which case we may be forced to make “the decision” much earlier.
If we get lucky, there is some chance that Bacchus either has B-cell lymphoma, or that he just happens to fall in a very small group of dogs (~5%) who are able to battle T-cell into remission for a year or more. Obviously, this isn’t exactly the news we were hoping for, but we’re still keeping our fingers crossed for the lab results.