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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sammy is overweight, so the lump on his side was unnoticed for who knows how long. I noticed it a couple days ago. I made an appointment to see a doctor on Friday, and then I thought, "What could the doctor do?" If it's cancer, I'd imagine there's basically nothing that could be done to improve his health. (poor guy) If it's not cancer, then it's just a benign lump that he would probably just find annoying.

Sammy is my friend and one of only two pets I have (I have another rat) so I don't mean to devalue his company/friendship or his life, but I'm also trying to be a rational adult that has a son and other financial responsibilities.

I'm sure some one here could shed some pragmatic light on situations like this. .. such as, what am I missing about possible prognosis or treatment?
 

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Take him to a vet to learn your options. Or at least call the vet and talk to the, about it. Mort's lump was on his neck and we were basically told they could run expensive tests or operate. She assessed him and determined it was in fact a tumor and not an abscess or cyst that could just be drained and dosed. The lump ended up doubling in size in three days and he started having trouble breathing so I had to let him go. But I understand. He was an older rat and there was only a slight chance throwing money at the problem would solve it. I totally understand and if you decide to leave it alone and wait and see just make sure his quality of life is good.
 

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Tumors are extremely common with rats, especially females (if not spayed). Your best bet for him is to have it removed. Personally, I never opt for it to be sent out for analysis, since even if it was malignant, there's nothing you can do for cancer in rats. Only thing you'd be able to expect at that point is for the tumor to more than likely return.

I've had quite a few tumors removed from rats (ranging in price from $60-$120). So long as your vet is extremely knowledgeable about rat/small animal surgery procedures and pain management during/after the surgery, he should be just fine.

Keep in mind that the "wait and see" method with tumors in rats is not an advisable one. It will most assuredly grow larger and affect his life. The smaller the tumor is, the easier it is to remove for the vet (which means less cost), and the quicker the recovery.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Your best bet for him is to have it removed.
...
Keep in mind that the "wait and see" method with tumors in rats is not an advisable one. It will most assuredly grow larger and affect his life. The smaller the tumor is, the easier it is to remove for the vet (which means less cost), and the quicker the recovery.
I wish I knew how long it has been there. He's a rather big boy, and I don't hold him as much as my other rat. I just didn't notice it until I was recording a video of him eating. I suppose it's about the size of an almond if an almond was round.


I hadn't considered your logic about getting it removed, but it makes sense. If it's just a tumor, then it's gone and he'll be fine. If it's cancer, then he might have a slightly longer life, but ultimately still untreatable... but I could still say I tried my best. Thanks for the advice.
 

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The other possibility is that it's just an abscess and can be treated with a round of antibiotics. But if left alone, the infection could spread and kill him. You won't know what it is and what your options are unless you take him to the vet. I understand the dilemma of the financial aspect of owning rats. But you did make a commitment to these boys when you adopted them. I'm not saying to throw money at an unsolvable problem, but if it's something simple that can save his life, why not do it? A vet visit isn't that expensive and antibiotics aren't very expensive. If your vet tells you it's a tumor, then you can decide what you want to do about it even if it's just getting on record with the vet so he/she can give you pain medications later on if it becomes necessary to keep him comfortable.
 

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I totally agree with littlebird, I didn't mean to convey that you should just ignore it, I meant to say pay for a check up type appointment and then really weigh the benefits of surgery if it was surgery that was necessary. They told me that it would be $400 for Mort to have the surgery and even then it was highly possible that once they got in there it would be inoperable and nothing would be resolved. I also had to take into account that he was an older rat and had had a very hard life until I got him. He was raised on table scraps and then Ol' Roy dog food, when I got him he was overweight yet malnourished. He was missing fur and had really rough fur which I attributed to poor food quality but then once I learned more about rats I realized he was just a rex. The girl I got him from was keeping him in a cage with food scattered through the bedding on the floor (it WAS clean bedding at least) and a water bottle, nothing else. No entertainment, and no cage mates. SHe told me he was very sweet with humand but bad with other rats, which proved to be true. I was never able to trust him with Binky because he'd get super agressive and just attack him. So he was well loved my me and my partner in crime and had all kinds of fun stuff to do but remaind solitary until the end of his life. Personally I feel I made the right decision. All I can say to you is you need to trust yourself to make the best decision for Sammy and no one but you will truly understand all the intricacies. I understand and relate to the fact that you love him dearly but have to compartmentalize your feelings and do what is best for your family and financial situation as well as what is best for Sammy. As I said, take him to the vet, pray that it's just an abcess that can be treated easily, let them tell you your options, and go from there. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm changing my tune to avoid criticism, I just didn't explain myself very well before.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Understood.
I didn't mean to make it sound like I don't want to help Sammy. Far from it. And of course I understand the financial responsibility of pet ownership. Before posting, I was basically considering possibilities for a malignant tumor. My thoughts had turned to worse-case-scenario and for whatever reason I didn't consider the shades of grey, and the potentials of how to treat a benign lump. Knee-jerk reaction I guess. But that's exactly why I wanted other rat owners' input: to get a different point of view to set me straight. And that's exactly what I got. I appreciate the insight.

As I originally said, he already has an appointment to see the doctor on Friday. That's as early as I can get it with my work schedule. I work Sunday through Thursday.
 

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They told me that it would be $400 for Mort to have the surgery and even then it was highly possible that once they got in there it would be inoperable and nothing would be resolved.
To me, that just sounds like a vet that is uncomfortable doing the surgery to begin with, and is trying to dissuade you from going ahead with it (without outright saying, "I can't/won't do this and aren't educated in this"). Unless the tumor was large and wrapped around a lot of things (like organs)/had a lot of adhesions, there's no reason why the surgery would cost that much or be so impossible. Especially if the tumors are removed early enough, they're generally 'floating' tumors and aren't attached to anything. It's literally open up, scoop out, and suture.

Personally, my thinking has always been to immediately treat whatever health issue one of my pets develops (especially small animals, since they can decline very quickly). They recover faster, and it's cheaper. I've even had rats that were over 2 years old go under for tumor removals/neuters/spays. Again, so long as the vet is properly informed/follows through with correct procedures, and the rat doesn't currently have any respiratory/heart issues, the risk is pretty low.

Good luck on Friday! Keeping my fingers crossed for you guys. Let us know what happens with Sammy :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Was I surprised on Friday with the bill estimate from the vet. Holy smokes. The histopathology that has the dashes next to it is what he sad was optional. He said if the lump was removed, they'd use the lab test to find out if all of it was removed:





There was also the test procedure to find out if the lump is malignant or benign:




Yikes.
 

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Holy crap, time to find a new vet that doesn't absolutely GOUGE clients. That's terrible! A lot of vets will quote ridiculously high prices for things to dissuade you from going ahead with it, instead of simply saying they aren't comfortable enough/don't have the knowledge.

He won't need sub-q fluids, nor a bandage. Honestly, that list is insane and just made up.
 

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Holy moly. I know we can't compare Rands to Dollars, but I had to find an after hours vet for Justin last week as he had a bad wheeze. Just for the consultation and meds, the bill was R730. I was also thrown back, but what else can one do sometimes! Here in SA I was lucky to even find a after hour vet so I didn't have a choice. But yes, try find another vet. That does seem extreme!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The only other [exotic] vet I found told me over the phone that their exam price is the same as the doctor I saw on Friday. That would lead me to assume that the rest of their prices are the same. I picked the one I went to because it's closer.
 

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Exam prices can be very much the same between clinics, roundabout. Definitely does not mean surgery prices (or experience) will be! What that vet quoted you for, is for a completely different surgery, for a dog or cat. They don't know what they're doing, and they're trying to dissuade you.
 
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