Case Report: Osteosarcoma

Willow, a 10 ½-year old spayed female Golden Retriever, was referred to the Surgical Division of the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia for a hard lump on her left front leg. Originally Willow was seen by an out-of-town veterinarian while on vacation last November because she became painful and started limping on her left front leg. Coincidentally, the veterinarian who saw Willow breeds Golden Retrievers. The veterinarian believed that the lump was osteosarcoma which is bone cancer. Osteosarcoma is relatively common in older Golden Retrievers. Willow’s parents were advised to keep her comfortable until her quality of life demanded humane euthanasia.

When Willow became painful again despite the pain medications, she was seen by her local veterinarian who referred her to the Surgical Division of the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia for possible amputation.

Upon examination and viewing the x-rays, Dr. Morris was not convinced that the lump was truly osteosarcoma. The average lifespan after an osteosarcoma diagnosis is 246 days. Osteosarcoma does metastasize, often to the lungs. Willow’s chest x-ray was clear. Willow was admitted for surgery to remove the boney mass. During the surgery Dr. Morris noted that the quality of the bone and bone marrow looked relatively normal. The boney mass was removed and sent to a laboratory for histopathology to determine what disease process existed.
Unfortunately, the pathology did come back as osteosarcoma.

Willow remained comfortable on her pain medications for a little over a month then returned for amputation. She was a little confused for the first week or so after the amputation and then returned to her happy, active self. Willow returned for her suture removal two weeks later and surprised all of us by jumping up on the counter where she knew the treats were kept.

The amputation has served the purpose intended—making Willow pain free and improving her quality of life. We hope that Willow will beat the odds. In our eyes she is already a wonder dog.