Insulinoma Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $2,000 - 14,000

Average Cost

$8,500

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What is Insulinoma?

Canine insulinoma is a rare disease, yet it is the most common tumor of the endocrine pancreas. Insulinomas receive this name because they affect the endocrine functions of the pancreas, which handle hormone control—including insulin. Most regularly, insulinomas put an excess of insulin into the body. Insulinoma occurs most often in middle-aged and older dogs, averaging nine years in age. They affect both sexes and are more likely in larger breeds. The most commonly afflicted breeds are German Shepherds, Irish Setters, Boxers, Golden Retrievers and Terriers.

There are two distinct types of pancreatic cancer — exocrine and endocrine. Insulinoma falls into the latter category, affecting the hormone secretion by the pancreas, causing an excess of insulin to enter the body. This excess of insulin induces hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in the body, and can result in a number of symptoms, including confusion, weakness, seizures, and collapse, up to and including death. Treatment almost always requires surgery, which can be risky and not always effective. Average life expectancy ranges from 6 to 24 months after diagnosis.

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Symptoms of Insulinoma in Dogs

Canine insulinoma affects the endocrine function in a way that an excess of insulin is put out into the body. This excess of insulin induces hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in the body. This decrease in blood sugar can result in the following symptoms:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Lack of alertness
  • Changes in behavior
  • Weakness
  • Disturbance of vision
  • Muscle degeneration
  • Decrease in reflex of appendages
  • Seizures
  • Collapse
  • Coma
  • Death
Types

There are two distinct kinds of pancreatic cancer, both of which have separate symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments.

  • Exocrine carcinomas are cancerous tumors that impact the exocrine functions of the pancreas. An exocrine carcinoma impacts the digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas. Exocrine carcinomas spread quickly to the lining of the stomach, liver, and other organs.
  • Endocrine carcinomas are cancerous tumors that impact the endocrine functions of the pancreas. An endocrine carcinoma impacts the hormone production of the pancreas. These tumors can affect other parts of the body through their influence on hormone production. Additionally, they may spread quickly to the liver and lymph nodes.
  • Insulinoma is an endocrine carcinoma that primarily affects the production of insulin by the pancreas, causing a decrease in blood sugar known as hypoglycemia.

Causes of Insulinoma in Dogs

As with many forms of cancer, there is no definitive cause for pancreatic cancer. It is believed that there is a genetic component to the likelihood of this cancer occurring, supported by the prevalence of the disease in certain breeds and body types. Ultimately, any definitive causation of pancreatic cancers, including insulinoma, is unknown.

Diagnosis of Insulinoma in Dogs

Because of an insulinoma’s effect, a persistent case of hypoglycemia is very suggestive of the presence of an insulinoma. To diagnose an insulinoma, multiple tests may be conducted, including:

  • Multiple blood tests
  • Analysis of insulin and glucose levels
  • Abdominal ultrasound/x-rays
  • Abdominal surgery

In most cases, abdominal surgery is required to definitely diagnose insulinoma. The process involves opening the abdomen so that the surgeon can feel the pancreas for any tumors. In addition, a blue stain is used to mark any insulinoma cells in the pancreas.

Treatment of Insulinoma in Dogs

There are a few initial steps in treatment that can aid in regulating the dog’s blood sugar:

  • Feeding the dog small meals through the day
  • Medication to help raise blood sugar
  • Diazoxide can be used to supplement insulin secretion

It is important to address the hypoglycemia and get it under control before continuing treatment for the insulinoma. Once the hypoglycemia has been addressed, surgery is usually the only successful treatment for insulinoma, and even then the prognosis is poor. During surgery, the dog will be monitored for pancreatitis, which can be fatal.

There are several medications that can aid in suppressing insulinoma and keeping it from spreading, but be aware; they can have toxic side effects.

Recovery of Insulinoma in Dogs

After surgery, the dog will have a recovery period and will need to be monitored closely for reoccurrence of hypoglycemia. It’s possible that the veterinarian will suggest dietary restrictions and multiple feedings through the day to maintain blood sugar. In the event that hypoglycemia is still present after surgery, this means that part of the tumor is still present in the body. At this point chemotherapy may be required, but the prognosis for survival is not good. On average, survival rates of insulinoma range from 6 to 24 months after diagnosis.

Insulinoma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Rambo
Boxer
10 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Hypoglycaemia

Medication Used

Phenobarbital Thyrotab sodium bromi

My 10 year old boxer was just diagnosed with insulinoma via blood test. (We had taken him to the vet one morning about 1.5 weeks ago because he was very lethargic, unstable and not eating. Found out his sugar was very low. They leveled out his sugars and tested for insulinoma). Two days after diagnosis we did an ultrasound and X-ray which both came back clear (could not see the insulinoma either but that was expected) so we are hopeful it has not yet spread. His activity level returned to normal after the initial vet visit once we started feeding him every 3-4 hours. You would not know anything was wrong other than his pre-existing conditions (idiopathic epilepsy which has been controlled with medication and hypothyroidism).

The plan is to go through with surgery and I’m meeting the surgeon tomorrow for a consult. But I’m wondering what I should expect for longevity? I hear these almost always come back. Also, will I be able to return to a normal feeding schedule? (3x/day instead of 6) and will he need to go on any medications after or should the surgery in theory clear up this problem for a while?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Firstly we need to confirm that there is an insulinoma, sometimes they are only visible during exploratory surgery and visual observation is the best diagnostic method as they don’t always show on ultrasound. If there is a single insulinoma then life expectancy is longer (around 18 months) than for dogs with multiple masses; any aftercare would depend on Rambo’s recovery and blood glucose levels after surgery as some cases result in hyperglycemia due to a drop in insulin production, each case is different and there is no reliable way to know how Rambo will be afterwards. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.acvs.org/small-animal/insulinoma

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Oscar
Silky Terrier
9 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

none

My dog recently went in for preop blood work for a potential dental cleaning. Results came back with a glucose of <10 and vet was almost certain it was a false reading. They said he didn't need another glucose reading but that I could get a quick one in house if I want it to so I did I went in around 7 p.m. before he had any dinner and he last ate in the morning around 9 a.m. and got a reading of 57. They said the low end was 60 so this is a toddler but they didn't seem concerned and did not offer any other testing. They said he could just have a low range. Should I be concerned or push for more testing or another glucose check? My dog is otherwise behaving normal and his activity level seems to be about the same.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Reference range for glucose is around 75-120mg/dL depending on the equipment and calibration; however if there is any doubt a fructosamine test should be done since this is a reliable indicator of blood glucose level over the past few weeks. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Rambo
Boxer
10 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Hypoglycaemia

Medication Used

Prednisone phenobarbital

My dog had surgery to remove insulinoma on August 1st. The surgeon removed what he thought was a nodule from the pancreas as well as two tiny spots on the liver that were paler than the rest of the liver. After surgery his blood sugar remained in the 3’s (mmol/L), and did not increase from where it was before surgery. Biopsy results stated that the nodule from the pancreas was not insulinoma and rather was thickening of pancreatic tissue. The spots on the liver were insulinoma so obviously it has spread to the liver. The source of insulinoma in the pancreas was not found and not removed. His blood sugar is currently being stabilized with prednisone, but the vet said another surgery is an option. To wait for it to get bigger and try to remove it again. My question is, “is it worth it” for lack of better words. What is the prognosis if we did remove the insulinoma Tumor from the pancreas this time knowing that it had previously spread to the liver (even though those two spots were removed from the liver). Would it actually buy him any more real time.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
This is all on a case by case basis, however it would be beneficial to remove any insulinoma if it enlarges but it may just help to stabilise the blood glucose but the overall prognosis wouldn’t be favourable for the long term if there has already been signs of metastasis. Your Veterinarian would be able to tell you more and you should get regular ultrasounds to look for any enlargement in the pancreas, but the best method of detection is feeling for an insulinoma during exploratory surgery. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Rambo
Boxer
10 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Hypoglycaemia
History of seizures

I took my almost 10 year old boxer into the vet two days ago as he was very lethargic, drinking a ton of water and would not eat. They tested his glucose and he was 1.7. They gave him two cans of dog food and got his glucose up to 2.7 by the time he was ready to come home. Blood tests showed pancreatitis (this is his 4th time having it in about 2 years). Liver and kidney enzymes looked ok. They’re testing him for insulinoma, I have yet to receive results, expecting them next week. I have been feeding him small meals 6-8x a day and I measured his blood sugar today and it was 3.8 mmol/L. Energy is a lot better. He also has a history of hypothyroidism and idiopathic epilepsy which started March of 2017 (taking phenobarbital and sodium bromide for that). He was on prednisone but we had to wean him off as he was displaying Cushing-like symptoms (he was tested and does not have cushings though)

Is it possible that it could be something other than insulinoma? If it is insulinoma, at what point would surgery be “not worth it”? If we were to do an X-ray/ultrasound and found it metastasized would there essentially be no point in doing surgery as it wouldn’t really affect his outcome? I love my dog and want to do what I can for him but paying thousands for surgery that won’t really buy him any extra time would be a difficult decision to make.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Insulinoma would be very high on the differential list, and you will know more once the test results come back. If it is, doing an ultrasound would be the next best thing to do, as if the tumor is small, surgery and chemotherapy may help. If the tumor has spread, there may not be value in surgery. I hope that everything goes well for Rambo.

Was there any diagnosis for Rambo? My dog has the same symptoms of hypothyroidism & seizures. Insulinoma is also a possibility for the cause of the seizures that began March of 2018.

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Tucker
German Shorthaired Pointer
9 Years
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Seizures hypogy
Seziures

Medication Used

prednisone

My dog Tucker has just been diagnosed with insulinoma. When I found out I immediately said yes to surgery but after doing some research I’m a little skeptical. Everything I read has been negative stating that on average Everything hypoglycemia comes back 8 months after surgery. I don’t know if I can go through with the surgery knowing that the recovery period would be very painful for him and no guarantees that quality of life returns to normal. After completing the ultrasound my vet believes that there is only one tumor but but there may be some that the ultrasound couldn’t pick up. As for his demeanor he moderately active, goes for long walks and occasionally runs and plays at at the dog park, but he is not as active as he was 2 months ago. What can I expect if I decide not to go through with surgery? Lifespan? Slow deterioration? weight loss? Medicine?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Depending on the stage of cancer that Tucker is in, there may be dietary or chemotherapy options for him if you decide not to have surgery done. Insulinomas tend to be fairly aggressive cancers, and he may decline quickly without treatment. If you are not going to have surgery, and the surgery is not without risks, so that is a valid decision, it would be best to talk with your veterinarian about medical therapies and whether they may help extend the quality of Tucker's life. I hope that you are able to keep him comfortable for a while longer.

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Rider
Border Collie Aussie Shepherd Mis
7 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

hypothyroidism
Seizures

Medication Used

thyroid-tabs

I'm wondering if there is any connection to hypothyroidism and insulinoma? A few people have posted that their dogs have hypothyroidism and have concerns of insulinoma as well - so I'm wondering if there is any connection.

My dog recently began getting seizures and it was noted he had a low functioning thyroid which the vets thought might be the reason for the seizures - but we're treating the thyroid and he's still had a couple of episodes. My concern is insulinoma, but feel it's very hard to diagnose.

He's had a clear Ultrasound (which i know doesn't always show), and his glucose was tested once after he fasted, but wondering if I should continue to intermittently fast and recheck. I purchased a glucometer but I'm unable to get blood from his ear to check myself. He's a stressful dog in the car, and my vet is far away, so I've avoiding doing it... but if it's recommended, I'll do it.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thyroid disease is somewhat common, while insulinoma's are very uncommon. Border Collies are a little bit more prone than other breeds for epilepsy, and that would be more likely than insulinoma, as well. It may be best to start him on anti-seizure medication and see if that resolves his problems. You can discuss that in more detail with your veterinarian, and they may be able to help you over the phone if needed.

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macy
lab
10 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

none sense the steroids

Im trying to figure out a good diet for my dog with insulinoma .. she has refused to eat her hard food sense she was diagnosed. We have been feeding her small meals every four hours of boiled chicken, white or brown rice and wheat bread. She is taking prescribed steroids. just looking for something more to feed her - she doesn't like can dog food either...

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
There is no one fits all diet for insulinoma, however a high fibre diet is considered to be best; your Veterinarian should be working with you on diet and medical therapy to help stabilise blood glucose levels. The first link below is to a veterinary diet website which offers advice on veterinary nutrition for various conditions. However, surgery is the best treatment to manage this condition. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.petdiets.com/Ask-the-Nutritionist www.acvs.org/small-animal/insulinoma

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Brody
Chocolate labrador
7 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Seziures, sugar level drops

I gave a family a lab as a service dog for their child 4 days later they called the dog passed away, I gave this family another puppy this puppy was rushed to the vet within 24 hrs. The only think she did the same as the other puppy was feed it the same puppy food. She save the puppy food. The puppy is now 7 months old. The puppy is being diagnosed with insulinoma pancreas. Can you please tell me if the dog food has poison in it could this cause this puppy to have all the symptoms of Insulinoma. All other puppies from this litter ae healthy. I JUST FIND IT ODD 2 puppies left my home healthy to the same family and this happens I'm puzzled and hurt. They have the puppy at the vet. Can't keep sugar up? They may be putting the puppy to sleep.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Generally we see hypoglycemia in cases of insulinoma (unlikely in two pups from the same litter especially at this age), poisoning (xylitol from chewing gum or toothpaste), poor diet (would take longer than four days) among other causes; I cannot say whether it is the dog food and since you didn’t mention the type of dog food I cannot check for recalls (you can check the list below) but also check that neither dog has their teeth brushed with human toothpaste or got into something like chewing gum. Also, if an insulinoma is suspected an ultrasound should be performed to confirm and a necropsy on the deceased pup. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.avma.org/News/Issues/recalls-alerts/Pages/pet-food-safety-recalls-alerts.aspx www.avma.org/News/Issues/recalls-alerts/Pages/pet-food-safety-recalls-alerts-fullyear.aspx www.acvs.org/small-animal/insulinoma

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Rambo
Boxer
10 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Hypoglycaemia

Medication Used

Phenobarbital
Phenobarbital sodium bromide

I asked a question previously about my dog Rambo who may have insulinoma. I am still waiting on test results to come back but I have been testing his blood sugar and he seems to have reactive hypoglycaemia. His blood sugar drops after eating instead of raising. For instance, today before eating he was 3.9. I fed him then retested an hour later and it was 3.2. An hour after that it went back up to 3.6 and then at the 3 hour mark right before I fed him again it was 3.4. I’ve tested him before a meal and then after (between 30min to an hour after) and every time his blood sugar has dropped. What does this indicate? Does it fall in line with insulinoma?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Some cases of insulinoma may show postprandial hypoglycemia, but it isn’t a characteristic of insulinoma enough to base a diagnosis on; you should wait for the test results to come back and consider having an ultrasound done to see if an insulinoma can be identified. However the main reliable method of diagnosis is visualisation during an exploratory laparotomy (celiotomy). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Rider
Border Collie Aussie Shepherd
7 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

hypothyroidism
Seizures

Medication Used

.3 mg thyroid tabs

I'm wondering if there is any connection to hypothyroidism and insulinoma? A few people have posted that their dogs have hypothyroidism and have concerns of insulinoma as well - so I'm wondering if there is any connection.

My dog recently began getting seizures and it was noted he had a low functioning thyroid which the vets thought might be the reason for the seizures - but we're treating the thyroid effectively and he's still had a couple of episodes.

My concern is insulinoma, but feel it's very hard to diagnose. He's had a clear Ultrasound (which i know doesn't always show), and his glucose was tested once after he fasted, but wondering if I should continue to intermittently fast and recheck. I purchased a glucometer but I'm unable to get blood from his ear to check myself. He's a stressful dog in the car, and my vet is far away, so I've avoiding doing it... but if it's recommended, I'll do it.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thyroid disease is somewhat common, while insulinoma's are very uncommon. Border Collies are a little bit more prone than other breeds for epilepsy, and that would be more likely than insulinoma, as well. It may be best to start him on anti-seizure medication and see if that resolves his problems. You can discuss that in more detail with your veterinarian, and they may be able to help you over the phone if needed.

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Rambo
Boxer
10 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Hypoglycaemia

Medication Used

Phenobarbital
Phenobarbital sodium bromide thyrot
Phenobarbital sodium bromide

I have yet another question about my dogs insulinoma. We took him in for his surgery and the vet initially said to do a CT scan (his ultrasound and X-ray came back clear but insulinoma was essentially diagnosed via blood test). I was very on the fence as it would be another 2k to do this imaging (in the past year and a half we’ve spent about 20k on him for all his problems he’s had). The surgeon came in right as I was saying fine we’ll do it and said it’s not necessary and although it helps he will be able to look and feel for the insulinoma. So I didn’t end up doing the CT.

The surgeon called me after the surgery and said they removed a 2-3mm spot on the edge of the pancreas for testing as well as two pin point spots on the liver (he said they were slightly paler than the rest of the liver but not hard like a nodule but he removed them just in case).

It’s been just over 24 hours since his surgery (he went in just after 9am yesterday and it’s 1:00pm now). The vet called me around 8am and said he’s doing well but that his blood sugar is still a bit low. It was in the 3s the day of surgery and went down to the 2s overnight. Before surgery he was always around 3.7mmol/l. They said they’ll put him on a low dose of prednisone for now then he might be able to go off it at his 10 day post op appointment.

I have two questions:

1) what is the most accurate way to see these insulinomas? I’ve read that surgery was the most accurate before. But if it was too small for him to see or feel would a CT scan even be able to pick it up? I’ve heard those aren’t 100% either. I’m stressing I made the wrong decision not doing the CT and they may have missed something because of it.

2) how soon do dogs blood sugar level out after surgery? Is it too soon to say “yes he is still hypoglycaemic post op”? Is there anything else that could cause his blood sugar to be lower than it was before surgery? Stress? The dextrose he was on? Coming off the dextrose he was on? I’m very stressed that I put him through surgery and spent 4-5k all for nothing.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Visualisation and biopsy during surgery is the only real way to diagnose insulinoma, CT and ultrasound can be indicative but not always reliable (depending on the literature cited). CT scans may miss small tumours (just make a Google search) in the pancreas or elsewhere in the body. A nodule was found and sent for histopathology, this will give you and your Veterinarian more insight into whether it is an insulinoma or not; after removal of an insulinoma the blood glucose may rise to critical levels due to a decrease in insulin production and your Veterinarian should be monitoring the blood glucose levels. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.acvs.org/small-animal/insulinoma

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