South FL Dog Has Reconstructive Surgery After Oral Cancer Diagnosis

January 6, 2021

Specialists at Advanced Veterinary Care Center in Davie Collaborate to Save Tiki


“She was not eating the hard food on her plate, for like 3 days or so,” says pet owner Glenda Hannan, of her sweet 12-year-old mini schnauzer Tiki. “Then, my daughter noticed a black mass on her gum.” Glenda took Tiki to her family veterinarian. A biopsy revealed Tiki was positive for oral malignant melanoma. The family vet recommended Glenda take Tiki for specialized treatment at Advanced Veterinary Care Center in Davie. Glenda met with AVCC Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon, Dr. Barry Brower along with The Director of The Cancer Center at AVCC; Board Certified Veterinary Oncologist, Dr. Sindy Piscoya.

Oral malignant melanoma is the most common cancer of the oral cavity of dogs. It’s considered an extremely malignant tumor with local invasiveness and high likelihood of spread to other parts of the body. Unfortunately, oral melanoma in dogs is regarded as a chemotherapy resistant tumor. The best treatment plan for Tiki, given her cancer had not yet spread, was to have surgery, followed by The Oncept melanoma vaccine.

Tiki Undergoes Surgery

Dr. Brower performed a subtotal mandibulectomy to remove the majority of the lower right jawbone, into which this aggressive tumor was invading. The procedure involves removing the bone with the associated tumor. Next is reconstructing the soft tissues of the oral cavity.  In general, the overall prognosis for this technique is good to excellent regarding oral function, operative and postoperative complications, postoperative appearance and client satisfaction. Studies indicate this seems directly related to surgeon experience with appropriate patient selection, technical performance of the surgery, and preoperative client communications to set realistic expectations.

After surgery, Tiki was eating food the following day.  “She recovered greatly well,” says Glenda. “It was aggressive surgery, but she is very strong and eating her soft food well.”

The Next Step in Tiki’s Cancer Care

Immunotherapy is an additional strategy to treat melanoma. So, after surgery, Tiki met with Dr. Piscoya to begin the ONCEPT vaccine. The ONCEPT vaccine is the first USDA approved therapeutic DNA vaccine that uses human tyrosinase to elicit an immune response against the naive tyrosinase expressed on melanoma cells. The patient mounts an immune response against any melanoma cells remaining in the body and targets them for elimination. The vaccines are given every other week for a total of 4 vaccines. It requires a booster every 6 months for duration of life. Initial studies have shown that dogs with oral malignant melanoma treated with adequate surgery followed by the canine ONCEPT melanoma vaccine had a significantly better outcome compared to historical groups.

Tiki at Home

Today, Tiki is doing amazing at home. “She is fantastic,” says Glenda. “Tiki has great energy level and we have good hopes for her. She is enjoying life as she has always been, pain free and doing very well. Tiki is a warrior and I will always be proud of her and her attitude towards puppy life. I hope I will have one more year with my Tiki. But I may not, so we are treating everyday as it is her last day.”

Glenda urges all pet owners to examine their pets regularly. “Cancer prevention is almost impossible,” she says, “so, early detection and early treatment is the key. Do a 10-15 minute assessment from tip of nose to tip of tail – everything – mouth, toes, nails, abdomen – ALL! Look for lumps, strange things – know your animal.  I recommend doing that once a month. It takes few minutes but can save your pet’s life!”

Glenda describes the doctors and staff at Advanced Veterinary Care Center as knowledgeable, patient and caring. “Everyone did an awesome job to make me at ease, despite all of the craziness with Covid,” she adds. “The nursing care was excellent. They kept sending me pictures of Tiki while she was in ICU and that helped me ease up a bit. Everyone did great job.”

Advanced Veterinary Care Center and The Cancer Center at AVCC is located in South Florida in Broward County.

8920 W. State Road 84,
Davie, Florida 33324

You can learn more about our specialties at or call 954-500-8387

The Cancer Center at AVCC offers the following oncology services:

Diagnostic tests including:

  • Fine needle aspirates/cytology
  • Bone marrow aspirates
  • Bone biopsies
  • Incisional and punch biopsies
  • Personalized genomic testing


  • Traditional chemotherapy (intravenous/intracavitary)
  • Metronomic chemotherapy
  • Targeted chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Palliative care and pain management
  • Hospice counseling
  • Nutritional counseling and referral
  • Referral for pet radiation therapy

For more on cancer treatment for your pet, see our Comprehensive Guide to Pet Cancer Care.

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