What is Pancreatic Cancer (Insulinoma)?
Insulinoma is a cancerous growth (also known as a tumor) located on the pancreas in dogs. A healthy pancreas helps produce insulin, which controls the glucose levels in the dog’s body. Insulinomas prevent the pancreas from functioning properly. These tumors cause the insulin levels to rise dramatically, which in turn, cause the glucose levels to decrease. Low levels of glucose can lead to dogs collapsing, or suffering from seizures or other neurological problems.
Insulinoma are tumors on the dog’s pancreas, the organ which regulates and controls both insulin and glucose. These tumors prevent the pancreas from functioning normally. The dog’s decreased glucose levels begin to cause weakness and neurological disorders, and can lead to death if left untreated.
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Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer (Insulinoma) in Dogs
If your pet begins to show behavioral changes that cause you concern, do not delay in seeking a veterinary opinion. Symptoms of insulinoma include the following:
- Muscle tremors
While physical collapse is the most common symptom, a dog exhibiting any of these symptoms should be given medical attention immediately. Symptoms can be sporadic due to the release of insulin; it may help to record any of these signs as they appear to assist your veterinarian in the diagnosis.
Causes of Pancreatic Cancer (Insulinoma) in Dogs
Insulinoma is caused by cancerous growth on the pancreas. The presence of these tumors cause the dog’s insulin levels to increase, in turn decreasing the glucose in their bloodstream. Without a functioning pancreas, dogs can become weak and suffer neurological problems. It is also likely that this cancer will metastasize and spread throughout the body, possibly causing death.
Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer (Insulinoma) in Dogs
Diagnosis of insulinoma often begins after the dog has exhibited several symptoms consistent with the disease. Your veterinarian will likely request that a blood sample be taken to examine the glucose levels. If low glucose levels are found, your veterinarian may want to continue to test for insulinoma and monitoring the dog’s glucose levels. To do so, they will likely order multiple blood samples - particularly ones where the dog is fasting and not fasting to see if there is persistent hypoglycemia. Additional tests for “amended insulin:glucose ratio” (AIGR) may be performed, particularly if the dog’s insulin levels are on the lower end but still considered to be relatively normal. Your veterinarian will also make sure to rule out any other diseases that could be causing the symptoms or changes in glucose levels during this time. In additional to blood tests, diagnostic imaging may also be utilized to determine the presence of a tumor, along with its possible size (though this method can be difficult due to the small size of the pancreas). Unfortunately, the most effective way of diagnosing insulinoma is visualization of the tumor during abdominal surgery, during which the surgeon will examine the organ for any growths. However, if the veterinarian does not feel comfortable putting the dog through surgery (or has other confirmation that the tumors are present), they will likely begin treatment without direct visualization of the tumors.
Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer (Insulinoma) in Dogs
Emergency treatment is needed. If your dog collapses or exhibits any of the other symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. Immediate treatment typically involves administering glucose to the dog, though steroids and intravenous fluids may also be needed. Once the tumor is located, removal will depend on several factors, such as the dog’s age and current health status. If the procedure is not considered too risky, your veterinarian may elect to surgically remove the tumor. Additional treatment will be needed if the growths have metastasized and spread throughout the body. Medications, as well as chemotherapy, can help treat insulinoma but there are some serious side effects to these treatments. Your veterinarian will likely also consult with you regarding your pet’s nutrition - a dietary plan may be put in place to help monitor your dog’s glucose levels.
Recovery of Pancreatic Cancer (Insulinoma) in Dogs
Prognosis is poor if insulinoma is detected late or symptoms are ignored. Due to the aggressiveness of this cancer, it is often metastatic and malignant. If insulinoma is caught early, survival rates are fair. Treatment options such as surgery, chemotherapy and dietary management may help extend the pet’s life.
Pancreatic Cancer (Insulinoma) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
We found out that my dog has cancer in his pancreas and the doctor had said that the optional thing to do is to put him to sleep my family and I were planing to do so on 11/27/17 but we have been so frustrated
Because we are trying to see if there is another way to keep him at least for a little of months . Also to let you know the doctor had said that if we try to do chemotherapy there is one out of hundred that it would work . What can I do ?
- sincerely Kelly
My little dog has pancreatic cancer, diagnosed in Sept. 2017, it is now 2.6.18, he does not have too much longer, however the Palladia is very effective. The draw back on the Palladia is that it can cause bleeding stomach ulcers. It worked well for a while, had to take him off of it because of the ulcers. The steroids helped keep the blood sugar up, however, they are not as effective after several months, had to start giving him Karo Syrup in a shringe once a day, then twice a day, now 3 times a day. He is now doing an IV therapy Chemo, but not near as good as the Palladia was. I know we don't have too much longer, however, we have made it 4 months now since diagnosis. Unfortunetly it had aleady spread to other areas and they said operating was not an option. Just a note to those trying to do all they can, adding probiotics to the diet helped Jack, I also added other cell enhancing suppliments. Baby food works well when they have ulcers. Bless you on your journey - Corey
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