Stella’s Journey to Recovery

Sweet little Stella was originally referred to us in August 2022 as she had a raised lesion on her upper right lip.

She was looked after by Ed Bellamy, one of our Residents in Oncology, and Charlie Pittaway, one of our Oncology specialists. They diagnosed a mast cell tumour (MCT) affecting the inside of her upper right lip by sampling the mass with a needle and looking at the cells collected under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis. At the same time Stella was staged – which is an assessment to see whether her tumour had spread to any other part of her body – it didn’t show any obvious disease.

As the location of her tumour was difficult for surgery to be performed without leaving behind any tumour cells, Stella was started on the drug prednisolone and treated with two doses of chemotherapy to try and shrink the mass in order to help with this.

Stella’s mass did reduce in size with this treatment, and she was able to have surgery four months later. However, as Ed and Charlie were suspicious, based on the behaviour of Stella’s tumour, that it may have spread since she was staged, they recommended removing her mandibular lymph nodes at the same time.

Stella had surgery with our Soft Tissue Surgery team who managed to completely remove it, however even with her pre-treatment, the cells of her mast cell tumour were still very close to the edge of where our surgeons had been able to remove it. As Ed and Charlie suspected there was evidence that Stella’s disease had spread to her mandibular lymph nodes.

For this reason, Stella was started on chemotherapy after she had recovered from her surgery to try and mop up any cancerous cells that may have been left behind or had spread to other parts of her body. She had this over a 3-month period with some gaps to give her immune system more time to recover in between doses of chemotherapy.

Stella had her last re-check recently and her owner was very pleased with her general wellbeing and expressed no concerns. After repeating her staging, looking at the remaining lymph nodes in her neck as well as at her liver, spleen, we were not able to find any signs that her disease was growing back or that it had spread. The team were very happy that Stella appeared to be enjoying an excellent quality of life.

The team will still continue to monitor Stella closely with scans every three months so that if she does show any evidence of it coming back, it is picked up and treated as soon as possible.

Stella’s dedicated owners have also had further experiences of the DWR teams with our Neurology Service. Her sister Poppy and their other rescue Pug Paddy have both recently had to have spinal surgery!

Here you can see the group on a beachside bench from left Buddy, Poppy, Stella, and Paddy.