Osteosarcoma of the radius
Cleo was presented with a large firm swelling in the middle of her right foreleg. The owners thought it may have been an infection and had not been to the vet when they first noticed the swelling.
We gave Cleo some pain killers and sedative and took x-rays of the leg. There was total destruction of the radius, a bone connecting the elbow to the wrist.
The prognosis was hopeless so we euthanised Cleo.
Osteosarcoma of the limbs is one of the more common cancers we see in practice.
They are usually seen in the larger breeds of dogs e.g. Great Danes, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers.
They are highly aggressive and rapidly growing and they often spread to other parts of the body e.g. lungs.
Early detection and diagnosis does not appear to help the outcome. Early amputation of the leg combined with chemotherapy using drugs such as Cisplatin may prolong life by a few months.
Untreated, osteosarcomas grow extremely rapidly and are very painful. Cases are lucky to see more than a few weeks before it is time to euthanase the pet. They need very good pain killers to keep them comfortable.
In German Shepherds, there is a fungal bone infection which can look very similar in appearance. It is diagnosed by bone biopsy and/or presence of the fungus in urine samples. It also has a poor prognosis but it is better than osteosarcoma. Anti-fungal drugs can be used in an attempt to treat the condition.