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Our Heartbreaking Story: Boxer Jaw Cancer-Symptoms and Treatment

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Let’s start with “what is it?”  Gingiva Cancer (also known as Squamous Cell Carcinoma) is a progressive, rapid (weeks) local invasion of neoplastic epithelial cells within the oral cavity of dogs.   Basically this type of cancer is highly invasive to bone (in most cases the jaw bone).  This aggressive type of cancer is more likely to spread to the lymph nodes rather than the lungs.  Cause of death is secondary to local recurrence and Cachexia (extreme lose of weight).  Symptoms include: excessive salivation, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), halitosis (bad breath), weight loss, loose teeth, bloody discharge, facial deformity, reactive hyperplasia (increased cell growth). The good news is there is treatment options when caught early. The bad news is it requires the boxer to be put under anesthesia/sedative for surgery to take place. ***Please make sure that the veterinarian does not administer Acepromazine.  Boxers have a sensitivity to the this drug.*** TREATMENT: Surgically remove the diseased tissue and bone with chemotherapy to follow.  Basically they carefully remove the teeth, gums, and/or the jaw (either a mandibulectomy [lower jawbone] or maxillectomy [upper jawbone]). Since this is an operation, a soft diet is required .  Veterinarians prescribe a pain killers due to the nature of the surgery. On a personal note, we are experiencing this very issue with our Daisy girl.  Daisy went through surgery for Gingival Hyperplasia on July 8th.  She did amazing but this opened up Pandora's box.  A few days later, her gums looked like they were healing nicely.  Approximately 10 days after surgery, as I was brushing her teeth her mouth started to bleed terribly.  When I took a closer look, behind her bottom right canine tooth was a large gaping hole that was bleeding.  Immediately I took her to the vet.  She had developed an infection and was given antibiotics.  She did not heal or get better from the antibiotics.  Following the antibiotics her gums became extremely swollen and began to bleed (see below pic where her gums are holding her lips open).  All of this happened very quickly (within a few weeks).

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Additional stronger antibiotics were prescribed and the vet felt  that her bottom right canine was “dead” and causing the infection.  A second surgery was scheduled on August 19th to remove the canine.  After discussing her surgery and reviewing the x-ray with the vet, we beloieved that Daisy had developed a very severe bone infection (Osteomyelitis) that we thought ate away her jawbone (see below x-ray where white jawbone ends and then continues on backside).  During surgery 4 teeth (the canine, incisor, and 2 front teeth) were removed (basically they pretty much fell out of her mouth).  The vet believes this infection was a complication from the 1st surgery.  He took a tissue culture to test it for a super-bug and a biopsy to check for cancer.   In the meantime, she was put on a 4 quadrant antibiotic therapy to try and combat the infection.  At this time she can only eat wet food and has lost 11 pounds.

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About a day later we were informed that she had Squamous Cell Carcinoma (Gingiva/Jawbone Cancer).  We are completely heartbroken for our girl. At this time, we are scheduled to meet with a veterinary oncologist.  We will keep you posted on the prognosis, in the meantime please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Now it’s your turn, have you experienced this with your boxer?  We’d love to hear your stories!  Email: stories@dailyboxer.com

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18 Responses to Our Heartbreaking Story: Boxer Jaw Cancer-Symptoms and Treatment

  1. Kirsten December 28, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    Our boxer, Java is scheduled for a mandibulectomy on Tuesday due to a chondrosarcoma tumor under her tongue. We have watched it get bigger day by day. I’m extremely anxious about the surgery.

    • Daisy January 1, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

      Good Luck, please let us know how Java is doing.

  2. Sallie September 9, 2015 at 1:37 am #

    Please let me know how Daisy is doing now. What a heart breaking story.

    • Daisy January 12, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

      Daisy has been cancer free since September

      • Ashley March 31, 2016 at 9:35 pm #

        so glad she is doing well!

      • Jacqueline September 7, 2016 at 4:28 am #

        What treatments did you do for Daisy?

        • Jacqueline September 7, 2016 at 4:53 am #

          So Relieved to find a story with a happy ending in regards to this disease!
          My poor Girl has been going through this as well since 08/01 and I’m searching for hope and guidance. Please I just can’t lose her.

        • Daisy February 19, 2017 at 1:28 am #

          We used a holistic vet that prescribed a Chinese herbal form of chemo after we did the surgery.

  3. Debbie September 20, 2015 at 9:13 pm #

    My Boxer is 11 years old and has jaw bone cancer. He has good days and bad days, and i know if i have another week with him, i am blessed. It’s like losing a child.

  4. Katy March 2, 2016 at 4:41 am #

    ♡♡CÁNCER FREE♡♡ Words I wish we heard more often than not! Glad your k9 kid is doing well. I have 2 a boy,and a girl. My girl just turned 9 so I’m getting concerned about health issues dueto growing older. So far ni reason(s) to worry but our boy is about 1 year younger and seems to be having an issue with his k9 tooth. ,fingers crossed. I’m taking him soon to have it checked out.

  5. LuckyStarStryke June 28, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

    We are just beginning our adventure with Hyperplasia and have an upcoming appointment. In hindsight – do you have any suggestions from your journey and decisions you would have make differently? Our boy, Lucky, has heart issues and I am unsure about sedation. Thank you for your information and we are sending you all much love!

  6. Vic May 30, 2017 at 7:43 pm #

    Daisy, I just wanted to check in and how the months following surgery went.

    • Daisy August 22, 2017 at 1:20 pm #

      She recovered within about 2 weeks. It has been 5 years and she is cancer free and a happy, healthy 9 year old boxer 😉

  7. Liz June 21, 2017 at 9:58 pm #

    My gorgeous boxer Cassius is having surgery tomorrow. I won’t know the extent of the damage until the vet gets in there. But he has upper and lower mouth growths..

    • Daisy August 22, 2017 at 1:21 pm #

      How did the surgery go?

  8. Jennie January 31, 2018 at 3:44 pm #

    I am reading through posts here trying to get an idea of what to do. My boy has a large mass/tumor in his lower jaw that was removed but came back. It looks to me, like a giant blood bubble. They want o do a biopsy to see which type of cancer it is. Then from there remove a large portion of his jaw bone. It is really hard to think about what things will be like for him without the bottom jaw. Also, the expense is large with trying to put my son through college on 1 income. I am sure that sounds horrible but it is my situation. I am trying to make a good but I cant seem to understand what he will be like with that jaw missing and eating an drinking. The surgeon did say he would be a “messy” dog with drooling and eating/drinking which I am willing to figure out. I just don’t want him to be in paid and then I think what if it just grows back somewhere else. So much to take in from this. This boy is so healthy other than this cancer that just formed in November 2017. When the vet removed it the first time she thought it would grow back and said we would need a biopsy if it did grow back. I am just confused here.

    • Daisy February 1, 2018 at 3:25 am #

      Daisy’s has a partial jaw remove on the bottom. One side goes back to the premolars and the other to the molars. It’s not as bad as you may think. I grind her kibble and mix it with water to make an oatmeal consistency. She can drink water normally and just as messy as before. Send me an email at Dayna@dailyboxer.com and I’ll send you pics. Have you considered any holistic measures beyond the surgery? They’ll probably recommend chemo or radiation after the surgery. I did not do that with Daisy. We used a holistic vet (no more expemsive than a regular vet) who used Chinese herbal treatment. I can send you that info too via email. Good luck with your decision. It’s hard when they’re family. Xoxox

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