Mast Cell Tumor: (Part I) The Diagnosis

Miscellaneous Bump
Last fall, I noticed a bump the size of a small bug bite on Mahana’s right arm. When it didn’t go away, I mentioned it to one of our veterinarians in December. She said to keep an eye on it, but it didn’t look like anything to worry about. 
Since the theme of our  (A Tail of an Itch) vet visit was skin, I pointed out the bump again. The vet tech evaluated it with fine needle aspiration cytology. She scraped the bump with a small needle, scraped it again a little bit deeper, and then looked at the cells under a microscope to determine a diagnosis. After the cytology, the vet came into the room to go over the tail fold pyoderma treatment and to say that cytology didn’t show anything to worry about. Phew, what a relief!

Diagnosis
As I was getting my backpack together and reaching for the exam room door the doctor returned. She said that the she was really sorry but the second slide showed that the bump was actually a Mast Cell Tumor. “What!?” I thought. Her mouth continued moving but once she arrived at the word “malignant” my mind stalled and didn’t turn over in time to keep up with the subsequent descriptions of surgery, complications, and series of other scenarios. Then I heard the word “cancer.”

The tumor needed to be removed as soon as possible. We scheduled our surgery for the following Tuesday, April 29th. In the meantime, Mahana would need to take 15 mg of hydroxyzine twice a day until the night before her surgery.

I am not sure if it is normal to take two slides when doing an aspiration cytology, maybe it is. If it isn’t routine, it should be. I am forever grateful the vet tech did her job well or extremely well. I am trying to focus on the positive. I know that Mahana doesn’t know she has cancer. I know that I am supposed to stay calm and assertive. Crying is off limits because it’s better for her. But, on our walk home from the vet’s office my eyes watered under my sunglasses. I couldn’t help it. 

Sit. Stay. Part II coming soon…