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PNST in a dog.

Species: Dog
Breed: Jack Russell Terrier
Age: 8-11 years
My Jack Russell (8 years old) was just diagnosed with a PNST. Which was discovered when the Vet removed what they thought was just a fatty tissue mass. It looked odd so they asked if we wanted to have it sent out. It came back as PNST. The location was not on the leg though. It was on the right side near the front leg/armpit. They gave me the number of a veterinary oncologist. My dog did not appear to be in any pain. One day the lump was just there and it was palapable and about the size of a plum. The vet does not know if she got the whole thing. Should I have further tests or what is the general prognosis/life span with this type/location of PNST? I can only find info on the PNSTs on the limbs?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

This is a tough question to answer because a peripheral nerve sheath tumor is really not a common diagnosis.

I won't be able to give you concrete answers but I can give you some information on this type of tumor.

The tumor originates from the sheath which is the covering outside of a nerve. They can be painful, but it sounds like you caught this one early and so lack of pain doesn't mean too much at this point.

The histology report is likely accurate. Nerve cells and myelin (the sheath) have a very particular appearance. If the vet says that they are not sure if they got all of the tumor then it likely means that the histology report indicated that there was no margin of tumor free tissue. In other words, it looks like there may be more cancerous cells still on Jake.

Unfortunately a PNST is something called a locally invasive tumor. This means that it is not likely to spread to organs, but it is quite likely to grow back at the original site.

The best thing to do here really is to see the oncologist. They will give you the best idea of prognosis and the best treatments. It's possible they could recommend another surgery to go back and remove more tissue around where the tumor was. Or, they may recommend radiation therapy. This can work well for PNSTs but can be pricey. Dogs handle radiation well. In some cases they may talk of chemotherapy as well.

Now to talk about prognosis. It is possible, that despite the histology report, the vet did actually remove all of the cancerous cells. If this is the case then Jake could be completely cured. If not, then on average, with radiation following surgery, most dogs live an additional 3-5 years before the tumor resurfaces.

This will be a tough call for you to make decisions because there are a lot of variables. I would highly recommend the oncologist visit, even if you are not thinking of further treatment, because this vet can tell you even more than I can. I do not have much experience with this type of tumor and am just telling you what the textbooks say. The oncologist will have personal experience with PSNTs and can share real data with you.

I hope everything is ok!

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:

Ok. Thank you for the feedback. I think we will call the veterinary oncologist, at the very least for peace of mind and to see if they have some additional historical data. We love this little guy! Thanks again! Beth

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome! I really hope everything works out well!

Dr. Marie.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I have to apologize. I just read over my answer and I had several spelling errors! I was typing my answer while my 4 year old little girl was begging with me to play with her before she went to bed. :)

I've corrected the errors, so if anything didn't make sense, it should read better now.

Dr. Marie.

Customer reply:

I understood almost everything, even with the spelling errors :) The only part that you corrected that now makes more sense was the portion about recommending radiation and then the next sentence said they may recommend radiation as well. I see the corrected version talks about chemotherapy... now that makes more sense :). Don't worry, I have been there, done that, with the 4-year-old status; but it has been 17 years since then. :) Best of luck! And Thanks!

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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.