Specialists combine to tackle rare spinal cancer

Two specialists at a leading referral centre joined forces to tackle a rare spinal cancer in a four-year-old border collie.

Fabio Stabile – neurology specialist at Southfields Veterinary Specialists near Basildon, Essex – discovered the unusual fibroma tumour when examining Molly, who had been brought in after a number of collapses and lameness in her right foreleg.

Dr Stabile removed most of the tumour in a successful operation, before Molly underwent radiation therapy over a four-week inpatient stay with head of clinical and radiation oncology Sarah Mason.

Dorsal laminectomy

Dr Stabile said: “An MRI scan identified a tumour inside Molly’s vertebral column, which was squashing her cervical spinal cord. She was immediately taken to surgery, and we performed a dorsal laminectomy on the third and fourth cervical vertebrae to allow spinal cord decompression.

“A large, soft epidural mass was then removed from the spinal canal and the spinal cord was fully decompressed. The tumour was promptly sent off to the lab to find out from which tissue it had originated so we could plan future treatment.”

New problem

Molly was walking within 24 hours and allowed home while Southfields awaited the results of the tumour analysis. Those tests revealed the rare fibroma that had been causing problems by local compression of the spine.

Dr Stabile said: “This was a new problem as, due to the important and delicate nature of the spinal cord, it was impossible to be sure that every cell of the tumour had been removed. This meant the tumour still had the potential to regrow and paralyse Molly again.”

Radiation therapy

On referral, Dr Mason opted for radiation therapy, but said it was not an easy fix.

Dr Mason said: “Radiation to the spinal cord is usually delivered in small ‘fractions’ on a daily basis over a period of four weeks, so Molly had to come and stay with us for a month to undergo the necessary treatments.

“Happily, she’s back home now and doing very well. She has her normal mobility again and is really enjoying quality, fun time with her family.”

Credit to: Specialists combine to tackle rare spinal cancer (Vet Times)

Vet Times. (2021). Specialists combine to tackle rare spinal cancer [online]

Available at: https://www.vettimes.co.uk/news/specialists-combine-to-tackle-rare-spinal-cancer/