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Hyperthermic Therapy for Cancer in Cats

 
 
Seizan
 
Reply Fri 22 Jul, 2016 05:41 am
Here on Okinawa, my wife and I have rescued many cats over the years. Most of them are unwanted "throwaway" pets, abandoned by departing US Military families. We try to provide the best home we can for these lost animals.

Our oldest cat passed away in her sleep at age 23. We have 2 cats that are 19. Most of our cats are between 10 and 16. A few are 4 to 8 years old. All are healthy and happy. We take very good care of our animals here, while most cat-owners here in Japan feel generally that 10 years is as old as the average cat gets.

One of the 16 y/o cats has a tumor growth under his tongue. He has limited control of the tongue -- he can drink but slowly and not much at a time. He eats dry food (small pellets) if he can isolate a pellet and get it into his mouth on the side, and work it to his throat to swallow. The tumor is big and in the way.

Tomorrow he is going for hyperthermic therapy, of which I've heard but not of this particular treatment. The doctor inserts several long thin wire-like needles into the tumor, and literally bakes it from the inside. Cancer cells do not stand heat much above normal body temperature, and break down easily in a specially-heated environment. So the tumor gets BBQ'd and the body does the rest of the removal process. The treatment is repeated from 3 or 4 angles around the tumor.

My question is: Has anyone here had any experience with this sort of treatment for their dog or cat? What is the prognosis? 16 is not really old and he is otherwise healthy, so I feel he will recover from the surgery. We were told he may not regain the use of his tongue, and may have to be tube-fed for the rest of his life (he will have to be tube-fed while he recovers at least, unless he regains use of the tongue early). But the tumor is malignant, and may regrow.

Anyone else have this experience with their pet? How many times did your pet have to have this procedure repeated? How long between treatments? What was the final outcome?
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Type: Question • Score: 3 • Views: 2,199 • Replies: 12
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Seizan
 
  2  
Reply Sat 23 Jul, 2016 05:35 pm
Well, the surgery was yesterday, and we arrived at the clinic in the early evening to transfer him to our clinic closer to home. The vets have a good relationship between clinics and share information freely.

Harmony (the cat) was groggy but awake. I'll spare you the details but he can't use his mouth yet and will have to use a feeding tube for at least a while.

The doc cautioned us against using this procedure too often, and mentioned a few optional treatments but they are not available on the island. During the next few months, we will have to decide on the next step or some other option. The vet at our own clinic is researching possibilities...
ossobucotemp
 
  2  
Reply Sat 23 Jul, 2016 05:46 pm
@Seizan,
I know nothing about this but am certainly interested.

We used to have some great vets post here often, but time passes. Patiodog hasn't posted in a long time now, but we miss him - he might concur or not.
Another guy is Cow Doc, who is still here but doesn't post often; maybe he'll show up, but his specialty is larger animals. Still he may have a point of view.
Seizan
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Jul, 2016 07:03 am
@ossobucotemp,
Harmony seems to be resting comfortably at the vet clinic (as comfortably as possible). He has a catheter through his throat to his stomach and has his food pumped in until he regains use of his tongue. He is responsive but rather quiet, a bit groggy from pain meds I think. We visit with him each day but he won't see us again for another 2 days (clinic is closed except for in-patient care on Tuesday and Wednesday).

We wonder about the next stage of his treatment. Doc is looking at options like chemo, radiation (which is not available for pets on Okinawa), etc.
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Leadfoot
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Jul, 2016 07:26 am
@Seizan,
No experience with hyperthermic cancer treatment in cats but I have wondered why this has not been more widely used for many cancers in humans too.

I've never hesitated to experiment on myself so when I developed a skin cancer on my hand I decided to try using the heat sensitivity of cancer cells. My crude method was to heat the area with an ordinary soldering iron. Very little pain until you get to the margins because cancer is not pain sensitive. The pain level tells you when the margins are reached. I continued burning until the pain level was uncomfortable (but not excruciating). That was almost 30 years ago. I can barely see the mark where I did it and have had no reoccurrence of cancer.

Hope it works well for your cat. I had a cat that made it to 23 as well.
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Seizan
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2016 07:27 pm
Harmony, the only "snowshoe" Siamese cat we ever had, passed away on Tuesday 20 September, just 2 weeks shy of his 16-year anniversary of his coming to live with us. His cancer resurged with a vengeance, he was unable to eat, and began to have great difficulty breathing. For the 60 days he lived at the clinic he was fed three times a day via a catheter through his neck, but became the affectionate clinic mascot while he had energy to walk. He was totally non-intimidated by any dog or other cat, showing no animosity but winning over people and animals with head butts and purring. He became everyone's pet but reserved speaking for only me and my wife Sumako.

We visited him every day the clinic was open, sometimes twice a day. He was never left to feel he was alone on his final journey. For the last week or so he was on oxygen 24/7, unable to digest food, and nearly immobile. Water with electrolytes was pumped into him subcutaneously. There was no chance for even a brief spell of improvement, let alone recovery. There was no coming back from this. It was time to say goodbye.

On Tuesday afternoon I attended Harmony's passing at the clinic (Sumako had an after-work appointment). He lifted his head shakily, looked me in the eye, and butted my hand as the vet injected a sedative. His appearance was one of surprise and total relief as he suddenly became pain-free. Then the second injection stopped his heart almost immediately. He closed his eyes and breathed his last.

Harmony sleeps now in the center of our backyard here overlooking the East China Sea, where we can see his resting place every day. The vet clinic bathed him, combed and fluffed his fur, and he looked very much as he did before he ever became ill. The technician placed a spray of small blue flowers in his cage with him when I brought him home. Harmony took the flowers with him to his resting place.

Sumako and I decided to plant a small coffee tree sapling over him, as his color was that of the perfect cup with cream. He rests between an olive tree and the Bird of Paradise, and a few feet in front of our cherry-guava bush. It was one of his favorite sunny places in the fall and spring, close to where he and our old dog Hatha (who is now 19 years old) used to enjoy each other's company, and the best place to chase grasshoppers.

Thanks for your comments and kind words, and to all others who can but read in silence and know what we feel.
roger
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2016 07:43 pm
@Seizan,
Very sorry for your loss, and glad he seemed to recognize you at the end.
Seizan
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2016 08:11 pm
@roger,
Thank you Roger. Actually, he and I spent nearly two hours together before the end. He was quite conscious and spoke to me several times. Despite his discomfort, he enjoyed being scratched behind the ears and on his neck. He couldn't stand anymore and could barely lift his head, but shifted about to get more petting and soft strokes on his back. Yes, he recognized me right up to the last.
roger
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2016 08:24 pm
@Seizan,
Yeah, that's all Nermal likes, too. Getting his ears rumpled, along with the back of the neck.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2016 08:29 pm
@Seizan,
Thank you for sharing this with us.

I have been reading and reflecting.

The description of Harmony's resting place is beautiful.
0 Replies
 
Seizan
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2016 08:48 pm
Sumako loves to bake bread and uses chia seeds, whole grain flour, flaxseed flour, and coconut oil in her mix. She baked two huge loaves of this bread yesterday and we visited the clinic to express our gratitude for the care and love the vet and techs showed to Harmony during his last months. We also brought a large jar of unfiltered honey as a spread. The scent of freshly-baked still hot bread filled the vet clinic...

Later that evening we visited a neighbor a few blocks away who cared for one of our cats who got lost. Cherie was an abandoned spayed cat who our son found at a local convenience store nearby about 8 years ago. Her hip was broken and she was starving, but she very friendly to Motoki, so he brought her home. She was mostly an indoor cat until 3 years ago when she went out but did not leave the yard. She enjoyed in-out freedom for several months, then one day she just disappeared.

Cat owners know that outdoor cats will go off on "adventures" and usually return. She did not. We felt she was lost and went looking for her, calling her name, but we never found her.

Late last year, the mentioned neighbor also lost one of their 3 cats. They dropped by our house with a photo of the cat feeling that if she showed up, it might be near our home since cats can sense other cats easily, and that's generally where food might be found. Sumako and I visited their home and I saw that the cat was probably just sunning herself in some corner of the field adjacent to the house, and would likely return when she got hungry. I was right.

But to our surprise, we found that Cherie (now renamed Tinker) was living with the neighbor! She seemed very happy and much more relaxed than at our home where there were many cats (versus only 3 others in the neighbor's home). She had just shown up there one day and they thought she was a stray, so adopted her. We were very happy for her and for them, and of course, we left her there.

When we showed up at the neighbor's home last night with another loaf of homemade bread to express our thanks for their care of Cherie/Tinker, we hoped to visit Cherie again. However we were saddened to find that Cherie had also passed away a few months ago from kidney failure and general organ shutdown (she would have been about 14 years old). We were also surprised to find that the neighbor used the same vet clinic as we, though we never saw each other there.

We left their home knowing that Cherie got the best treatment possible. We saw how well these folks take care of and love their cats, so we know she was cared for, and missed.

It was a rather bittersweet evening.

Sometimes pets are just heartbreaks waiting to happen...
roger
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2016 08:59 pm
@Seizan,

Seizan wrote:

Sometimes pets are just heartbreaks waiting to happen...


They sure are. Nermal is slowing down, becoming more of a house cat, and generally becoming more affectionate. He's fourteen years old, I'm 72, and I'm pretty sure he will be my last cat. It would just be selfish to get another when he passes.
Seizan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2016 09:16 pm
@roger,
Sumako and I decided to not have any more pets after those we have now. Our adopted family numbers about 30 now -- indoor, outdoor, in-out, and "peripherals". Those are the lost souls who show up regularly for food and meds, but are not quite domesticated. As long as they don't fight with the others, they are welcome. We nearly never see cat-fights here since there is plenty of food and space.

Ours seem to outlive most others here because they get great care. But we're getting too old to consider keeping young cats that might outlive us...!

We don't really regard them as "pets", either. At some point, they become family. But I don't think we are up to raising kids anymore. Our last to come is Siren, a small black kitty who at only 10 months old was already pregnant. I think she was dropped off on our porch late one night 3 years ago by someone who didn't want her and her kittens (I awoke at 3am to her screams). Sadly, she lost her one kitten at birth, and she never grew much larger than kitten-size herself. Her voice sounds like a police siren, hence her name.

She is our last.

We are just getting too old to host any more than we have...
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