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Specialist Red cell leukaemia

meadowgirl

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Does anyone have experience of red cell leukaemia in guinea pigs? White cells are normal. Jewel has been very sick with a URI and a blood test has now shown that there is this probable underlying leukaemia which is different from the more usual white cell leukaemia seen in guinea pigs. She is responding slowly to treatment at the moment. Wondering if anyone has any positive stories of recovery.
 

Siikibam

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I’m sorry your girl is unwell. I have no experience with it but wanted to offer support anyway. What did the vet say is the course of action?
 

Wiebke

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Does anyone have experience of red cell leukaemia in guinea pigs? White cells are normal. Jewel has been very sick with a URI and a blood test has now shown that there is this probable underlying leukaemia which is different from the more usual white cell leukaemia seen in guinea pigs. She is responding slowly to treatment at the moment. Wondering if anyone has any positive stories of recovery.
Hi!

I am very sorry but we have so far never come across this diagnosis on here.

Pushing the boundaries of diagnostics and veterinary care all the time means that a lot of issues can now be increasingly diagnosed but that your vet is operating very much at the cutting edge and very much on a trial basis. The issue is that the more vets can push back the horizon when it comes to dreadfully under-researched guinea pigs, the more complex health issues they will come across. Officially licensed medication for guinea pigs is still restricted to just two antibiotics and one analgesic in the UK and even less worldwide, just to put things into perspective. You will have to put your trust in your vet forging very much a new path.

I wish Jewel a good recovery!
 

meadowgirl

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Thank you very much, Siikibam and Wiebke!

She’s at an exotic vet and he said that the two treatment possibilities are steroids, which she’s on, and chemotherapy, which she’s too unwell for. Neither of which would be curative but which could give her some last happy months.

At the moment she still has the URI so treatment aims are firstly for that to continue to improve, and secondly for her to be eating enough to come home. She’s currently an in patient at the vets and needing almost full syringe feeding. We are taking it day by day.
 

Wiebke

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Thank you very much, Siikibam and Wiebke!

She’s at an exotic vet and he said that the two treatment possibilities are steroids, which she’s on, and chemotherapy, which she’s too unwell for. Neither of which would be curative but which could give her some last happy months.

At the moment she still has the URI so treatment aims are firstly for that to continue to improve, and secondly for her to be eating enough to come home. She’s currently an in patient at the vets and needing almost full syringe feeding. We are taking it day by day.
Steroids in guinea pigs should only be used in cases where a full recovery is not possible as rodents react to them different than other species. I am sure that your vet knows what she is doing and has weighed up very carefully the benefits and damages of any possible treatment in order to buy your precious girl a bit more time. Unfortunately any cancer in guinea pigs is never good news.

I hope that she will recover enough to come back home to you.
You may find some of the points about looking after terminally ill guinea pigs made in this guide here helpful as there is a huge hidden gift in knowing that what you have is limited and precious; provided you face your situation honestly and openly: A Practical and Sensitive Guide to Dying, Terminal Illness and Euthanasia in Guinea Pigs
 

meadowgirl

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I did not know that about steroids.... but I suppose she is not expected to make a full recovery. Thank you - I’ve read the info about steroids now.

The vet is one from the forum vet locator so hopefully good. The options he gave us yesterday were to try steroids or have her put to sleep. Today she was a little better so I’m glad we didn’t pts.

I’m vaguely hoping that if she gets over the URI and becomes well enough, that I could see if there is a vet who might have more specialist experience in this area. I tried to get her seen by the Royal Veterinary College but they wouldn’t take a self referral (that was before we got the probable leukaemia diagnosis). Does anyone have any experience with them or any vet who might have be suitable? Or maybe there just aren’t any, as Wiebke says, it’s not a well-researched area.
 

Wiebke

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I did not know that about steroids.... but I suppose she is not expected to make a full recovery. Thank you - I’ve read the info about steroids now.

The vet is one from the forum vet locator so hopefully good. The options he gave us yesterday were to try steroids or have her put to sleep. Today she was a little better so I’m glad we didn’t pts.

I’m vaguely hoping that if she gets over the URI and becomes well enough, that I could see if there is a vet who might have more specialist experience in this area. I tried to get her seen by the Royal Veterinary College but they wouldn’t take a self referral (that was before we got the probable leukaemia diagnosis). Does anyone have any experience with them or any vet who might have be suitable? Or maybe there just aren’t any, as Wiebke says, it’s not a well-researched area.
You and your vet are unfortunately in a situation that I personally call 'between a rock and a hard place' - there are 'good' choices and it is very much a weighing up of pros and cons and then some hard duty praying. Medication for guinea pigs is very limited and this is right at the edge of what is treatable.

Try to treasure every day more she is with you but be prepared to let her go if it doesn't work out. You and your vet are buying Jewel a chance - that is more than most other piggies will have as they won't get as far as a diagnosis in the first place. That is a great gift you are making her. ;)
 

Guinea-pigGaga

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Hi, @meadowgirl

I'm sorry to hear that Jewel is not very well at the moment.

In regards to Jewel's red blood cells, what has your veterinarian found?
 

Swissgreys

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Yes - we will make the most of every happy moment ❤
I am so sorry you are going through this.
We faced a similar choice when Oreo was diagnosed with lymphoma.
We were offered chemo or steroids, and opted for steroids in the end.
This did buy us some much needed time with Oreo, and gave us a chance to make our peace with her diagnosis and say our goodbyes.

For us we chose to give her quality over quantity, and in the end and it was the right decision for our family, but whatever decision you make we will all be here to support you. If you make your choice with love then it is never the wrong one.
 

meadowgirl

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Hi, @meadowgirl

I'm sorry to hear that Jewel is not very well at the moment.

In regards to Jewel's red blood cells, what has your veterinarian found?
He said there were no mature red blood cells but lots of immature ones, suggesting the previous mature cells finished their cycle and were replaced by the immature cells which haven’t matured as they usually would. He says the other reason for this would be a recent large blood loss but this hasn’t happened. She also has a high calcium which may suggest some bony involvement. He said a bone marrow tumour is the only likely cause. We can’t do a bone marrow biopsy so it remains unconfirmed but as close to a diagnosis as we will get.

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to make a difference which cells are affected, the prognosis is very short 😭
 

meadowgirl

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I am so sorry you are going through this.
We faced a similar choice when Oreo was diagnosed with lymphoma.
We were offered chemo or steroids, and opted for steroids in the end.
This did buy us some much needed time with Oreo, and gave us a chance to make our peace with her diagnosis and say our goodbyes.

For us we chose to give her quality over quantity, and in the end and it was the right decision for our family, but whatever decision you make we will all be here to support you. If you make your choice with love then it is never the wrong one.
I'm so sorry you went through this too. What made you go for the steroids rather than the chemotherapy? Do you mind me asking how long you got with Oreo?

I only want Jewel to have happy days so am hoping she can get home for a little while. It is very painful to lose a piggy before their time, whatever the cause. She is only 4 so I was expecting that we would have about 4 more years with her. She has a young piggy partner too (he is neutered), who is only 2. It is very sad to think that he will be bereaved too. He and Jewel will want to be together for as long as she can enjoy her life.
 

Guinea-pigGaga

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He said there were no mature red blood cells but lots of immature ones, suggesting the previous mature cells finished their cycle and were replaced by the immature cells which haven’t matured as they usually would. He says the other reason for this would be a recent large blood loss but this hasn’t happened. She also has a high calcium which may suggest some bony involvement. He said a bone marrow tumour is the only likely cause. We can’t do a bone marrow biopsy so it remains unconfirmed but as close to a diagnosis as we will get.

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to make a difference which cells are affected, the prognosis is very short 😭
I'm so sorry that you have received such devastating news.

Wishing both you, and Jewel the very best.
 
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