The Nunya Cancer Overview

Nunya was diagnosed with nasal cancer in September 2012.   She had been sneezing consistently for a few months, but we thought it was due to allergies.  It was not until Nunya had a major nosebleed one night that we learned cancer was a possibility.  Upon a CT scan and biopsy confirming our fears that she had a large, cancerous tumor, we set out to find the best treatment options possible and do whatever we could to provide her relief.

Since Nunya was otherwise healthy, we decided to aggressively treat the tumor with radiation/tomotherapy.  This gave us the best option of eradicating the tumor and getting rid of the cancer.  Before we started the treatment, we were told that the average dog will live between 9 and 15 months after receiving radiation.  If we did not pursue radiation and instead went with palliative care, her life expectancy would be approximately 2 months.

Nunya did well overall with her radiation/tomotherapy treatments.  She had side effects that were unpleasant, including radiation skin burns, lethargy, and loss of appetite. These were temporary though  and largely had subsided a few weeks after treatment finished.  Radiation successfully got rid of almost all of the tumor (with only trace amounts possibly remaining).  Nunya had about 7 good months of remission.

Unfortunately the tumor did grow back, and it was on the shorter end of the anticipated timeline for relapse.  We had hoped she would have two years cancer-free, but it was not to be.  The second time around the tumor grew aggressively fast.  We tried different chemotherapy options to try to reduce it but had minimal, if any, success.  The day finally came when we were down to two options – do another round of radiation treatment or give pain medication to make her comfortable.  Given the speed of the growth and the likelihood of miserable radiation side effects, we opted not to do a second radiation dose.  Nunya’s health rapidly declined over a few short days, and we had to make the decision to put her to sleep on August 6, 2013.

Nunya lived for 11 months after she was initially diagnosed with cancer.  While we wish she could have had longer, we feel we pursued the right course of treatment for her and are glad for the extra months we were able to have with her.  The whole process was a new experience for us, and we learned a lot about canine cancer and treatment options.  We wanted to write down our experiences to hopefully help others who find themselves in the unfortunate situation, and we hope that maybe our experience will be either helpful or informative to someone else trying to find out more about nasal cancer.

2 thoughts on “The Nunya Cancer Overview

  1. Lisa says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for creating this blog and sharing your experience. My 8 year old Jack Russell terrier is midway through radiation in response to a Grade 3 Chondrosarcoma in her right nasal passage. Apparently, Grade 3’s are quite rare with this form of cancer so we don’t know what to except. I am terrified of the side effects and your pictures have prepared me for what I will see! I have also created a blog to share my experience.

  2. Anne Timson says:

    I want to say thank you too.

    Our dog is not yet confirmed (waiting for the histology result the day after tomorrow) but there is no doubt in anyone’s mind. Even as much as a year ago, I remember noticing that she was sneezing more and the vet gave her some Tavigel – thinking it was allergies. I suppose nasal cancer is so rare that we wouldn’t expect him to think of it as a possibility at that stage. In the end, I am not sure what difference it would have made: we have yet to have the conversation but I think palliative care will be our only option as Jess has Addison’s condition (a disease caused by a compromised immune system) which would make GA every day for 20 days not really feasible. She is 11 1/2 years old – still happy and enjoying life at the moment, apart from the sneezing and the difficulty breathing at night.

    It does help to be prepared (even to read about how the euthanasia will be – it’s not something I have ever been able to ask anyone else) and it helps that you know how desperately sad I am feeling, weirdly, – strangers who are thousands of miles apart – I am in London. That’s what the web is for. Thank you again.

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