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Melanoma in mouth of dog.

Species: Dog
Breed: Beagle
Age: More than 15 ye
My dog has melanoma for the second time. She first got it in her mouth about two years ago. The tumor was extracted and she received the vaccine for it. She has another tumor in her mouth, which we discovered two weeks ago. This time we cannot have the tumor removed because they would have to remove part of her jaw, which would be cruel. We are giving her chemotherapy pills. We actually took her to her oncologist yesterday said that it hadn't spread and that although it appears that the tumor "sticks out more", it does not appear to have grown.

Tonight I noticed a huge bump on the side of her face that I had never seen before. Could it possibly be another tumor? Can a tumor develop or be visible overnight, since the oncologist did not see it yesterday. I highly doubt it but I just want to make sure. My parents think its just a bruise or something, which I think is probably the case but I want to be sure. I always rub her face and I have never noticed that bump. I'm positive that it had to have first shown up at most a couple of hours ago. Bumps like that creep me out when I touch them for some reason, so I am sure that I would have noticed it. Since she does not have that much time left I have been paying extremely close attention to her and would have noticed it if it had been there for longer than a couple of hours. Her face looks like she has a chicken wing bone poking the side of her mouth. Here is a picture. Here is a picture of the side of her face.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Dave..I'm really sorry that Sophie is going through this. Melanoma in the mouth is usually quite difficult to treat.

Thank you for including the picture. First of all, she looks like a real sweetie. :)

While I can't say for sure, it looks like the lump on her face may be a lymph node. When lymph nodes are enlarged it is usually in response to either infection or cancer. Given that she has melanoma in her mouth, there is a high chance that this is unfortunately due to cancer.

The good news is that a swollen lymph node is usually not painful. The bad news is that if this is a lymph node, it likely means that the cancer is spreading.

Another possibility is that this is the result of a tooth infection, but the location is not quite right.

To answer your question about the speed at which this appeared, it is possible that lymph nodes can grow very fast, especially in response to cancer.

Your vet will likely do a fine needle aspirate of this lump to determine if it is a lymph node and whether there is cancer in the lymph node. (However, the only time I have ever seen facial lymph nodes swollen is in response to cancer.)

I'm very sorry for the bad news. Please let me know if you have more concerns.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you for your quick response. She is acting completely normal. Do you feel that this is a matter that would warrant immediate attention from her oncologist. She is on an anti-biotic and chemotherapy medicine. Our next appointment with the oncologist is in exactly one month from her last visit which was yesterday. The animal hospital that she goes to is open 24/7. Should I take her right now, wait until the morning, wait until her next visit? What would you recommend?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome Dave. I don't see any reason to rush Sophie in tonight. I do think it would be good to have your regular vet see her in the next day or two though.

The vet should be able to determine if this is indeed a lymph node or if there is something else going on.

If necessary, your vet can consult with the oncologist as well.

Give Sophie some extra hugs tonight.
Dr. Marie

Customer reply:

Thanks. Realistically how long could one expect an 18 year old dog to live with a second round of melanoma that can't be renewed? I know there is no definite answer but is it possible for a dog like that to make it 6 months? She still jumps on the bed and acts like a puppy; no exaggeration.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You are right that there is no definite answer...but unfortunately melanoma in the mouth can be quite aggressive. The other negative factor is that if this is truly a lymph node that is enlarged by cancer then this means that cancer is spreading (metastasizing).

However, it sounds like she is being a true Beagle and plowing through her illness like nothing is wrong!

I have found that most owners know when it is time to say goodbye in cases like this. You will start to know when her appetite is affected and when she doesn't want to do the things that used to give her joy.

Your vet can also help you in making this hard decision. It doesn't sound like she is ready yet, but realistically you may be facing hard times in the next few weeks.

So sorry for the bad news.
Dr. Marie

Customer reply:

Yeah it's gonna be hard as hell. I think it would be easier, although said, if was really an old dog (yes she is old in age but when I walk her and just decides to spring home I have to sprint to keep up and I was the starting shooting guard on my high school's varsity team so I am pretty fast). This dog literally has unlimited energy. She runs around all day and never stays still. It's really hard to fathom that she doesn't have much time left. I'm 22, so she's been my little doggie since I was a little kid. Thanks a lot for all of your help and advice.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh's cases like this that make me cry. I hate to see the families where there are teenagers or people in their 20s who have known the dog all of their life and really have not known life without them.

I pray that Sophie hangs in there for as long as possible with as much joy as possible! And I also pray that the decision is as easy as possible when the time comes.

It has been a pleasure talking with you. I am heading off to bed now but if I can ever help again, just let me know.

Dr. Marie.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.