What is this lump? - Part 2
About a month ago, I posted in the Horse Health forum about my 18 year old TB gelding, Andy. A lump had suddenly appeared on his right flank. I mean it very literally appeared overnight. I waited a few days to see if it went down in size, but when it remained unchanged, I had my vet come out. He was not concerned about it at all and promptly dismissed it as either an allergic reaction to an insect bite or possibly a hematoma from bumping into something, such as a fence post, in the pasture. I apologize for the long post, but I wanted to let everyone know what it actually was just in case there are others in the future whose horse has similar symptoms.
A week passed after first seeing the lump but it did not decrease in size. What was even more concerning was the fact that Andy, my normally easy keeper, was losing weight and muscle tone. For a couple weeks prior to the lump appearing, Andy had been feeling a little tired or sluggish under saddle. It was very, very subtle. Nobody else could tell the difference just by watching me ride him, but I have owned him for 11 years and he is my heart horse...I just knew something was off.
I had a different vet come out on January 22 and he told me the lump looked like some kind of neoplasia. I asked what that meant and he said, "Cancer." I felt sick just hearing that. But the vet did say that it did not look like a typical lipoma (fatty tumor) or any type of sarcoma, so he was a bit puzzled. Because of other symptoms my horse was experiencing such as eye infections, increasing lethargy, and a bit of stumbling, and the fact that we recently moved from New York to Florida, we both suspected Lyme disease. Blood work showed a completely normal CBC, but we had to wait for the results of the Lyme test.
On Friday, January 24, while we were still waiting for the results of the Lyme test, Andy did not want to eat his p.m. grain. He munched on hay and drank water but would not touch the grain. This was definitely not like him at all. Over that weekend my husband and I did manage to get Andy to eat some grain, alfalfa cubes soaked in water, and some treats like carrots and peppermints. On Monday, January 27 the Lyme test came back positive so Andy was started on doxycycline. In the meantime, a blood sample had been sent to Cornell for more extensive Lyme testing. Those results came back on Monday, February 3rd and although they showed that Andy did indeed have Lyme at some point in his life, he did not have an active infection in his body at that point. So on my vet's recommendation, we stopped administering doxycycline. Both vets who had worked on my boy said they "had no clue" what was wrong. The only thing the second vet could recommend was to take Andy to an equine hospital for a needle biopsy of the lump on his flank along with an ultrasound of his abdomen to see if there were any more lumps internally.
I made arrangements to get Andy to an equine hospital. In the meantime, he stopped eating completely and looked extremely weak. At the hospital, my worst fears came true. The internal medicine vet performed an ultrasound which showed numerous masses throughout his body, including multiple masses on his spleen which were causing blood to swirl throughout his abdomen. The vet performed a needle biopsy on the lump on his right side along with a smaller lump she had discovered on his left flank. Both were filled with abnormal lymphoid cells, and the vet diagnosed him with disseminated lymphosarcoma. There was nothing that could be done to save him from the cancer that had spread throughout his body. My beautiful boy and best friend was euthanized right then.
I was not going to post anything as it is so painful to me and I feel absolutely heartbroken. However, I thought I should explain what the lump turned out to be just in case other members of this forum have a similar issue in the future. I can't believe how quickly he declined in just a matter of weeks.