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Discussion Starter #1
Our second old man now has a medium sized lump. It's under the arm, and tighter to the body than his brother's lump, but still able to freely move. Its flat and hard vs his brother's who was diagnosed as just a benign fatty tumor which feels like a soft egg. He has his vet appointment to diagnose and schedule surgery this Friday. Is the shape and consistency indicative of it maybe being cancer? He had chronic URIs as a young guy, but has been healthy through adulthood until now. He also has a small hard lump on the back of his head behind the ear which we are pretty certain now is a tumor and not an abscess. How common are head tumors? It is not at all near the eye or jaw which is often related to cancer, so we're not sure what to think about this one.
 

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How big is it? If its fairly small then it could well be something cyst like. Firmer tumours do worry more than soft ones, however its the nodular fast growing ones that worry me most. You can make guesses from the feel but theres no garuntees. The fact its loose under the skin bodes well for a complete removal though. In terms of head tumours, that is an odd placement. They can get boney growth type tumours which arent particularly good, and theres lymph tumours that can pop up in very odd places and spread through the lymphatic system. I would see how the suregry goes, if she finds some nasty stuff or signs it has spread then i would ask her to let him go under the anesthetic (as that is almost definitly cancer and once its spread its not far off being very unpleasent for them) otherwise i would treat it like its something benign and just monitor him. I've had a couple with cancer and they normally manage very well and its only a niggly feeling that they arent right (to the point where my vet can never find anything but i know they are "off") then one day it spreads and take hold and they go downhill fast (one went from fine, confirmed by several vet checks to gasping in the space of my 9 hour shift), on pm his lungs were riddled with tumours. Basically if he does have cancer then he may have months of being fine, or he might not, it doesnt help to give them treatment etc, you just need to act fast when the time comes. Its far better to assume its not and enjoy life with them and 9 times out of 10 you'll be right.
 

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It's about medium I'd say. didn't even notice it until it was the size it is now, because we were so concerned with his brother's tumors and malocclusion issues, so when I finally thought "Hm, maybe I should give Pancakes a check too" I was pretty shocked and felt guilty that it was suddenly something quite large (maybe about 3-4cm across?) and hadn't even checked before. It's not really noticeable just by looking at him until now so it was kind of a surprise. So since we noticed it suddenly after it had already grown, I have no idea how fast the growth rate has been.

What are signs that it could have spread if he's not given an xray? The back of the head really is a very odd place which is why I'm still hoping it's just a strange abscess... We've been doing compresses with no luck though and no sign of any head forming.

I truly have met only one vet that I felt comfortable and confidant in their knowledge and skill with rats. But this vet that we're seeing now is local and isn't that excellent vet. I worry they just know basically only mammary and fatty and other common tumors, and wouldn't really know what they're finding in more obscure issues like this so they might not recognize a red flag to a bigger issue. We are worried it could be cancer, in which case we'd just give hospice care until he seemed affected or quality of life was diminishing.

We've also been thinking about adopting a spayed or neutered rat since these two are getting older and less healthy and might not be around much longer (they will be 3 in August), we dont' want the survivor to be living alone after one of the brothers pass on. Do you think now might be a good time in looking into adding one or two rats? Or should we wait until they have fully recovered from their surgeries?
 

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I actually have a mouse, who has a similar issue, It looks like a chronically occurring abscess on my mouse that flares up and burst the skin sometimes, she's lived with it for probably nearly two years now. All I'm saying really is don't give up hope :)
 

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Well, we're pretty certain that Pcakes has cancer now. Saw a small scab on his lower tummy while he was climbing the bars and took him out to check it. Found out it was actually a scrape on top of another hard tumor that's long and irregular shaped and goes down right to the top of his uretha opening area. After that, I rubbed him everywhere on his body to see if there were any other hidden tumors, and found a hard tumor in his left testicle that is almost the size of the actual entire testical. Didn't find anymore, but with these many hard odd tumors, and especially the testicular one, we're just about positive it's cancer... He has his vet appointment in a few hours so the vet will check him and maybe do a needle biopsy on the lumps. If it is cancer, we won't put him through surgery since he likely won't have much time left and recovering from surgery would be uncessary stress on his sytem. I'd rather he be able to just focus on staying as healthy as possible until his time comes. He still is acting lively and no personality changes or weight loss, so that's good at least. Hopefully he has a few months left. I can't believe how fast and suddenly all these little tumors are popping up all over his body. Pretty bummed out about this...

His brother we will still schedule surgery for. His lump is still growing and he's walking oddly and acts pretty tired most of the time. He acts much more clumsy with little persistance when trying to climb. He will flop back onto the floor rather than try to pull himself up the rest of the way onto a hammock. He'll try lifting his back feet a few times, but then just gives up and flops off. When he's turning around (like when grooming or just turning to go a different direction), he usually will roll over onto his back as if he isn't able to move his bottom half well enough to turn, and he's too tired to try. We're not sure if he's having early stages of HLD or if he's walking oddly because of his lump. In order to walk, he seems to have to arch his back up to lift the lump and keep it out of the way of his feet, so he ends up dragging his tail and butt much more now, and his back legs will sometimes scrape the ground as he's pulling a foot back up to take a step. We're really hoping this is just from him havig to walk in a new way to accomodate the lump, but we're not sure.

Poor old men..
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Vet is testing two of Pancake's lumps and will call today with results if it's cancer.

Dumplekins is still losing a considerable ammount of weight and vet thinks he's having some kind of organ failure and surgery is our of the question and he may pass away soon. She also gave us Critical Care to help him gain weight, which is meant for rabbits and guinea pigs and other HERBAVORES and I think rats shouldn't have this.. I felt kind of upset that a vet would give this for rats when it's not something a rat can even properly digest, is it? How is a base food of timothy hay and soybean hully meant to be for rats?
 

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That doesn't sound good at all. Really rubbish. Would be interested to see what the vet finds as it's quite unusual though i doubt that's much consolation
 

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I agree. When my boyfriend came back home this morning after the appointment with the herbavore critical care, I felt a little mad. I don't trust many vets with rat care or knowlege, but I had thought this one seemed decent enough if we weren't able to travel the extra 2 hours to the only great rat vet we know. Now that little bit of trust has gone completely out the window.. Still waiting to hear back what she found from the needle bioposy on Pcake's head and tummy lump.

And another thing, she felt his testicle and said there wasn't anything there. About 90% of that testicle is quite firm and a little nodular, and is a complete different feeling than a healthy testicle.

These are two older guys, so I realize they will probably now just be needing hospice care and surgery would likely be more detrimental than beneficial at this point since their time may be coming up quicker than anticipated, especially for Dumplekins. I'm just hoping if he needs to suddenly have a PTS appointment, it's after the holidays so the vets will be back from their vacations.
 
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