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Old 11-23-2021, 08:13 PM   #1
Yamper
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Default Hamster with cancer

Hello!

I have been reading posts on here for a while but never posted until now because I am truly desperate. I need more opinions on this

So my hamster's name is Yamper and he is around 17 months old now (I've had him for 16 months). We noticed a lump about the size of a quarter on his neck a week ago and made a vet appointment right away but their only availability was 5 days later. During the 5 days wait, his lump started to get even bigger until it was the size of a ping pong ball. They did not recommend coming in as an emergency because Yamper was still very active and eating well. So, fast forward to the appointment, the vet did some tests and we found out that it is cancer... The options are to simply put him on medication or do surgery... the vet suggests the latter...

I read that a lot of people decided not to do surgery on their hamsters and they lived for a while even with their tumors but I am not sure with doing that because of the size of Yamper's. He's still very healthy the vet said (other than being uncomfortable from the size of the tumor) so I am very torn between decisions.

I scheduled the surgery for Monday (again, just following what the vet said) and I am giving him 0.05 ml of Prednisolone and Enrofloxacin until then. Should I go through with the surgery?
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Old 11-24-2021, 12:46 PM   #2
velma
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Default Re: Hamster with cancer

Hi. Welcome to HC.

I'm sorry to hear about Yamper. That really is a sizeable lump. I think really, with a lump that size, even if he did live for a while without surgery, how much of a problem would it cause him? And what is the medication dong for him? I had a hamster a few years ago who developed a tumour on his shoulder which very quickly meant he had trouble cleaning his eye on that side and had trouble navigating lumpy bedding as he couldn't extend his leg, which would only have got worse. Is Yamper having trouble getting food or cleaning himself? I think the best thing is to speak to your vet for an honest conversation about what they think Yamper's chances are for surviving surgery and the anaesthetic while you weigh it up. In my case, the vet felt due to my hamster's age and things like that, that the kindest thing to do was to put him to sleep. It's a very hard decision to make, but this case it was the right thing to do. Sorry, that sounds doom and gloom but what I'm really trying to say is speak to your vet about realistic outcomes for surgery and for not surgery and work out what would be kindest thing for Yamper. You love Yamper so whatever you decide will be the right thing.
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Old 11-24-2021, 01:59 PM   #3
Serendipity7000
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Default Re: Hamster with cancer

It is very difficult. Yamper's lump looks just like the one our Syrian, Moo, had. He was a bit older than Yamper (about 2) and I decided against surgery and just to keep him comfortable on Metacam.

I had a lump removed from another Syrian recently - which was really small - when he was 21 months. In the hope it would remove cancer in time. But he did then develop what they thought were secondaries in his head/eye.

The tricky bit for you is his age. If he was two the decision would be easier. But at 17 months he is not that "old". On the other hand it is a large lump and it depends how attached it is.

My vet said Moo's lump was a mammary tumour, which is quite common. It didn't bother him that much getting about and I made the odd adjustment so it didn't rub on anything hard when he was out and about in his cage.

If you've already established it's a cancerous lump then the cancer may have spread.

But that is all uncertain. And maybe the vet feels it's the type of tumour that is enclosed. You have two options really.

1) Go ahead with the surgery and keep your fingers crossed that it's all removed and he lives out his life comfortably well into old age.
2) Cancel the surgery and keep him on Metacam until his quality of life deterioriates, and then he is likely to need to be helped on his way. How long that takes nobody knows. But I have seen some of these lumps grow enormous.

So my question would be - how good is the vet? Is it an exotic vet? They sound fairly confident about the surgery - did she mention if the lump is mobile in a sac or if it seemed attached internally?

Another option is to have a second opinion.

The risks - there is a slight risk a hamster may die under anaesthesia - but my view is - that is a risk worth taking as then they don't die of cancer and don't know much about it all.

The other risk is how extensive the surgery is and how much that takes out of them. Your vet wouldn't operate if your hamster wasn't healthy and in good condition.

It is a really hard decision. I also had a robo with a large lump underneath and decided not to have surgery - but then later wished I had as he remained active but was quite disabled by dragging the lump around. We got round that with a special set up in his cage, but he ended up having to be pts as the cancer took over.

Sorry I'm not being much help.

If you knew there were secondaries I think you would probably opt not to have surgery. But that is an unkown factor.

As he's only 17 months I think I would opt for the surgery. As that lump could get much bigger and then it's not possible to have surgery. But only if I was confident in the vet.
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Old 11-24-2021, 03:06 PM   #4
Ria P
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Smile Re: Hamster with cancer

I have been in the same situation as you not that long ago.
My hamster Clarissa developed a fast growing mass on her upper chest that got in her way and cramped her style.
The vet analyzed fluid from the mass which pointed towards cancer. Clarissa was a lively and spirited girl, only 10 months old.
I opted for the surgery to give her the chance to be herself again. She survived the surgery but died six days later. The mass had been attached to her thyroid gland so the vet had to remove both. He found another smaller mass near the parathyroid gland which was too risky to remove. The cancer had already spread.

I did ask myself if i made the right decision because it felt like i cut Clarissa's life short and she may have lived a little longer without the surgery. Reality is that the mass would have kept growing, probably affected her swallowing and
breathing and the cancer would have kept spreading through her body.

I don't regret my decision to opt for the surgery because it could have gone the other way and the cancer could have been enclosed and removed with the mass. It's a chance i would take again in the hope of giving a hamster their life back or at least saving them from a painful death from cancer.
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Old 11-24-2021, 04:02 PM   #5
Yamper
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Default Re: Hamster with cancer

Quote:
Originally Posted by velma View Post
Hi. Welcome to HC.

I'm sorry to hear about Yamper. That really is a sizeable lump. I think really, with a lump that size, even if he did live for a while without surgery, how much of a problem would it cause him? And what is the medication dong for him? I had a hamster a few years ago who developed a tumour on his shoulder which very quickly meant he had trouble cleaning his eye on that side and had trouble navigating lumpy bedding as he couldn't extend his leg, which would only have got worse. Is Yamper having trouble getting food or cleaning himself? I think the best thing is to speak to your vet for an honest conversation about what they think Yamper's chances are for surviving surgery and the anaesthetic while you weigh it up. In my case, the vet felt due to my hamster's age and things like that, that the kindest thing to do was to put him to sleep. It's a very hard decision to make, but this case it was the right thing to do. Sorry, that sounds doom and gloom but what I'm really trying to say is speak to your vet about realistic outcomes for surgery and for not surgery and work out what would be kindest thing for Yamper. You love Yamper so whatever you decide will be the right thing.
So right now, he is still very active, eating well, and grooming himself well which is why I'm so torn about it because he seems like he's in good condition despite the tumor. But maybe because he's that healthy, doing the surgery at this time is the best time? The vet said he has a 30 to 40 % chance of surviving the surgery, mainly because surgery for animals as small as him are difficult in general...

I know the decision will be tough either way but getting advice from some of you on here is a real comfort... Thank you very much
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Old 11-24-2021, 04:18 PM   #6
Yamper
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Default Re: Hamster with cancer

The vet said he actually has 3 tumors in that one lump and they have sort of merged together... but she seems confident in removing it. However she only gave him a 30-40% chance... I dont really know how good she is but their hospital is the only exotic animal hospital for miles so she's really my only hope...

Thank you all for sharing your experiences with your hamsters... it's really helping me organize the thoughts in my head. Thank you so much... I think I am going to go through with the surgery.
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