Now, her paw had been getting swollen, but the vet and my wife both agreed it was likely due to the bandage, so we removed that bandage yesterday, intending to replace it with a more lightly-wrapped one... But my wife, who had planned to acquire bandaging supplies on her way from work had forgotten them. We didn't even have tape. So we made her a temporary bandage out of (I promise this is true!) half a sanitary pad and three socks. [the first two wrapped around like an ace bandage, the third on the dog and pulled up to her shoulder.]
Mandy had no objection whatsover to this, other than the tenderness when we handled the swollen footie. She never once, in my sight, tried to remove or chew the sock, the original bandage, or the wound.
When I got home, the "bandage" had come off. She was leaving her stitches alone, although one had come out, at the bottom, where the most flexing happens. Well, of course I freaked out, and tried to re-assemble the bandage, and we set off toward teh vet's for the follow up appointment. The bandage was back off -- not through her efforts, but just walking -- before we reached the car, and when I put it back in the car, again, by the time we got into the vet's office, it was off again.
I was trying to re-re-wrap it when the vet came by, and I braced myself for a scolding, but the vet said, "Never mind, the incision looks fine, the opening in the bottom is good for drainage. Just put the cone back on her if she goes after it."
What she had was a peripheral nerve-sheath tumor, low-grade. This is a canine soft tissue sarcoma. Yes, it's cancer.
The vet didn't have a "prognosis." He said he was going to send a copy of the report to the Oncologist for more information.
The report calls for "Surgical margins of at least three cm." The margins (this means the tissue removed around and along with the lump) on the lump he removed were less than 1 mm. So, because the location didn't allow for removal of as much tissue as the standards call for, she's at greater risk for recurrance.
The vet mentioned the possibility of letting the leg heal, and then removing more tissue to try to make up the surgical margins.
Now, the "Comments" section of the report says:
"Canine soft tissue sarcomas (STSS) are a diverse group of malignant neoplasms of mesenchymal (connective tissue) origin. This group of neoplasms includes soft tissue sarcoma of of peripheral nerve sheath origin (neurofibrosarcoma, malignant schwannoma), hemangiopericytoma, myxosarcoma, and fibrosarcoma."
So, if I read this correctly, because it's a peripheral nerve-sheath tumor, it is probably either neurofibrosarcoma or malignant schwannoma. I so wish hte word malignant weren't in there.
The comments say that in cases where adequate surgical margins are not attainable, ancillary radiation therapy has been shown to provide effective long-term control. The vet asked if I wanted that, and said, "Big bucks." I asked what the prognosis is with or whithout, and that's a question on the list for the Veterinary Oncologists.
So there's the news. The short answer is, although it's cancer, I don't know yet.