Annual Check-up Surprise

Sometimes you meet people who don’t want to get a check-up because "they’re afraid the doctor might find something".   This has always struck me as strange — this notion that if nobody notices the problem, there really isn’t a problem.  This might be true for a cosmetic defect, but if you’ve got a major medical problem percolating beneath the surface, it’s more like the proverbial "elephant in the room that nobody talks about".

Today Ginger came in for her annual check-up.  Her arthritis has been acting up, but really her owner didn’t have any other health concerns for this dog.   Imagine my surprise when I found that every single peripheral lymph node I can feel was about five times normal size.  Her temperature is normal, she doesn’t act sick, and her blood-work is almost normal (and she’s fourteen years old).  Fine needle aspirates of her lymph node don’t look like they are infected.  Unfortunately, that means that our top suspect is lymph node cancer, even though she doesn’t seem to feel bad at all…yet. 

And maybe she won’t. Since we found this major situation before Ginger has lost any weight or seemed to feel bad, we have a much better chance to achieve remission of her tumors.  Early diagnosis, early treatment.  When would we have found this if she hadn’t been due for "her yearly"?

2 thoughts on “Annual Check-up Surprise

  1. webhill says:

    I’ll tell you what – I’ve only been out 7 years, and I only work part time (having had 3 children since graduating vet school in ’00), and I think I’ve personally diagnosed about 8 cases of lymphosarcoma in dogs since graduation — ALL of them at well checks. Now, I may aspirate more LNs than your average practitioner because my OWN dog was diagnosed with LSA at a well visit during my 2nd year of vet school, so I’m paranoid. But still. It seems to be the thing. I’ve never seen a sick dog present with it! Only well dogs!

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