When Dennis and Carol Noonan took Bailey, their 13-year-old Siberian Husky, for his annual exam in March 2021, their local veterinarian noticed a lump on the inside of his back knee. The likelihood was that it was a benign lipoma, a fatty lump just under the skin, but the veterinarian did a biopsy just to be sure.
The pathology results showed that the mass was in fact a soft tissue sarcoma, a cancer of the connective tissues. The Noonans, who live in Swoyersville, Pennsylvania, took Bailey to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals (CUHA) for further evaluation. They were familiar with CUHA because their previous Husky, Nico, had been treated there for hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels, over the course of five years.
Bailey’s first stop was the medical oncology department. Diagnostic tests did not reveal any evidence of cancer spread beyond his knee, making him a good candidate for surgery. The next step was to transfer him to the soft tissue surgery service for the procedure.
“These types of tumors don’t usually metastasize to other locations like the lungs but they’re very locally aggressive, so the concern with them is that they can really invade into the surrounding tissues, which makes surgical removal of them sometimes very difficult,” says Dr. Nicole Buote, associate professor of small animal surgery. Despite Bailey’s advanced age, his overall health was excellent, indicating that he could tolerate the procedure.