Not an Emergency - X-Rays from hen with ovarian cancer

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Nambroth, Oct 2, 2014.

  1. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    My sweet hen, Kua, passed away this July from Ovarian Cancer. She was a "Golden Comet" which is a fancy term for a sex-linked production hen (I didn't know this when I got her, I had only read that they made sweet pet hens). Though I never use supplemental light for my birds in winter, she didn't slow down on her laying duties, even once, since the time she came into lay. She laid large eggs almost every day of her life after she matured. She only molted once, even though she was more than three years old.
    In late May, I noticed she had stopped laying. I was desperately hoping that she was just coming into molt, but I have learned enough about production hens to be suspicious. In July I noticed a small mass in her abdomen (I was checking her daily). I made a vet appointment, hoping to catch any problems early and maybe even use a hormonal implant. By the time her appointment rolled around a week later, the mass in her abdomen was huge and she was markedly less spunky.

    My vet took x-rays so we could try to determine the nature of her problem, though we were both pretty sure it was reproductive, given her age, breed, and symptoms.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Please ignore the vertical bands on the image; those are from the flicker rate of the light being picked up by my camera. They are not present on the actual x-rays.

    Of special note are how "bright white" some of her bones look on the x-ray. This was more evident in person.. these photos were not the best. I took these after she passed away and I was a crying mess. I digress- The bright white on her bones, most especially her long bones and spine, were of great concern to my vet (look carefully at the first x-ray, at her vertebrae especially). It is caused by bone marrow ossification which is secondary to a spike in estrogen. She usually only sees this in birds that are about to lay an egg (which my hen was not about to do) or in those that are experiencing reproductive tumors.

    From Laferber's Veterinary page:
    Quote: Source: http://www.lafebervet.com/avian-medicine-2/avian-emergency-medicine/reproductive-emergencies/

    Also of note is how far the mass was pushing organs out of their typical locations.

    For comparison.... Here is an otherwise healthy hen's x-ray (save for the piece of metal in her gizzard, which she safely digested):
    This photo is NOT MINE and is used for education only. It is from the following page: http://winonafarmsinc.blogspot.com/2011/04/indesctructable-chicken.html
    [​IMG]

    The x-ray couldn't give us a full picture and I still held some hope that we could do something for her. Luckily, my vet has a portable ultrasound that is somehow configured to image birds well, and we did the ultrasound. It was quite inexpensive (much less than x-rays). It told the rest of the story-- and, I may have the screen captures from this someday when the vet has time to save and send them over to me.
    There was no fluid buildup, but clear non-homoginized little tumors all through her intestinal tract, and ovaries. The vet explained that even if we tried surgery, that once they are all into the intestines there is no hope of extraction. Then we slid the ultrasound wand over to look at her liver, and it was non-homogonous too. Meaning mottled; full of tumors. There was no hope. There was no fluid to drain, and no implant that could possibly reverse this much damage. It had grown very rapidly.

    [​IMG]
    Here is Kua on her last day with us, at the vet's office. Notice how she looks a bit lethargic, and her posture. She was usually very alert, spunky, tail held high, and trying to eat our fingers. This is still a hard photo to look at. She was a very good hen, and a good friend.

    If you view the reading below, in the first link there are photos. My hen's innards looked like Photo "B" (Primary malignant ovarian tumor in laying hen with stage IV OvCa.).

    I am not as well studied in this as I am Marek's... but for those that might want to learn more, here is some additional reading I found on a few passes of google. Kua was a great hen and we miss her dearly. Her fate is one that many (some might say "the majority") of production hens meet, and it is common between the ages of 2-3 years old. It is something to consider when looking at which breeds to get, if you are not concerned about egg production and are looking for pet hens, like I was. She was an excellent egg layer, but I'd trade that to have her with us for several more years.

    Reading:
    http://www.nature.com/onc/journal/v33/n28/fig_tab/onc2013321f3.html - this one has images of tumors with explanations in the caption. They are graphic but educational
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0057582 - This also has images. You can zoom in on them.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1474556/
    http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3430596?uid=3739832&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21104264863121
    http://cancerprevention.aacrjournals.org/content/2/2/97.full


    RIP sweet Kua. I hope this information helps someone, someday. Unfortunately, once it is at this point, there is no cure or treatment. Love your hens while they are still with you!
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
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  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Quote: Absolutely, my friend. [​IMG]
     
  3. hennible

    hennible Overrun With Chickens

    Thank you for sharing this. I have 5 old girls here, all commercial layers and this has been informative.
    Sorry for your loss.
     
  4. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    That's incredible what the xrays pick up. Thanks for posting them. [​IMG]
     
  5. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for sharing this. I got 2 Golden Comets about two years ago, as I also read they were friendly, good layers, and fairly cold hardy. I was very new to chickens then and didn't fully understand how hard this intense laying can be on them. My two girls (Goldie #1 and Goldie #2) are heading into their 2nd winter now, and I could probably count on both hands the number of days they've taken off of laying since they started. They are in fine health now, happy hens who are quite personable, but I worry about them growing older and running into these problems. I really appreciate you sharing the story of how you knew Kua was starting to suffer. Who knows how long my lovely Goldies will live a happy life- I hope it is many years- but once they're no longer with us I don't think I'll be adding hens that are bred to lay so aggressively.
     
  6. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    My story is very similar... I was just ignorant as to the consequences of heavy laying in this breed. I should have known better since I know about the problems in parrots that lay too often.
    I hope your girls are with you for years to come! It does not get them all... it's just far more common in them than I wish it were.
    Do your girls eat a ton? I have read that production birds have a tendency to always want to eat, eat, eat... it's a signal from their body that is always in egg-making overdive. It's one reason I knew Kua wasn't feeling well.. she started to lose interest in food. Kua LOVED to eat, and when she turned down mealworms, my heart was broken.
     
  7. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @Nambroth - I would say my Goldie are good eaters, but not voracious. One of them is at the bottom of the pecking order, so she tends to eat a lot right before bed when I'm "guarding" one of the feeders and she can stay out of the coop a few extra minutes to eat in peace while the rest head in to roost. The other is middle of the pecking order, and I think she's probably an "average" eater. I have Golden Laced Wyandottes, who are obviously much bigger birds than the Gold Comets, and those girls are eaters! [​IMG]

    At any rate, I learned a lot by reading your post. Will give my Goldies some extra mealworms in memory of Kua tonight!
     
  8. margkap

    margkap Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for sharing your painful loss. My Anacauna, Ana, was just diagnosed yesterday with ovarian cancer. She has quite a bit of fluid build up. I'm giving her anti-imflammatory, antibiotic and a diuretic. She is moving better today. Her x-ray was fuzzy white throughout her abdomen as well. I read that flaxseed helps layers avoid being consumed by this. I'm concerned now for my other girls. Have you tried this?

    Any thoughts?
     
  9. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    How was her diagnosis determined? Does your vet feel she has ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen)? My hen didn't really have any fluid, just cancerous growths. Some people that have ascites birds have them successfully drained. It's sort of a bandaid as it does not fix the problem, but it might prolong her health if you'd like to keep her around as a pet for longer. It might be worth asking your vet if she is a candidate for draining. There are several posts about this on BYC.

    I regret that I do not know about flaxseed helping; the cancer is pretty aggressive in my experience. Maybe someone else can comment on that, since I have not tried it.
     
  10. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    I had a necropsy performed on a hen which revealed oviduct cancer. I'm sorry about your hen, and know how you feel. Genetics in addition to GMO grains containing Glyphosate, which the WHO revealed in a report on March 20 as causing tumors in lab mice, could contribute to these increasing cases of cancer in livestock animals. Banning plastic bags, Spare The Air day, and other environmental legislative shakedowns of the citizenry by dingbat states like California is a joke compared to the amount of poison allowed in our food supply by the FDA,
     

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