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Testicular tumour & risks of general anaesthetic for older setters

Hi all,

My name is Tony and I own a 11yr 2mth old English Setter boy who's name is Mitch. I stumbled upon this forum whilst researching the risks of general anaesthetic and testicular tumours in older setters, which much to my dismay Mitch has just been diagnosed with. This website seems like a kindly and knowledgeable place to get some much needed advice/thoughts on the above, which I hope you don't mind is the main reason why I have just joined.

The current situation is that I have Mitch booked in with my vet on tuesday morning for pre-op blood tests to check liver & kidneys, which if ok will be followed by testicle removal on the same day. She (my vet) has informed me of the risks involved with the anaesthetic and that surgery generally has a good success rate. She also said that if I choose to not have surgery  then this type of tumour is usually not particularly aggresive, but couldn't give me an estimate of how long Mitch could go on for.

Even though I have Mitch booked for surgery I am still at sixes and sevens (to put it mildly) whether to go through with it or leave well alone and let things take their course. Most of my family and friends think that surgery would be the best option and am leaning slightly that way myself. I realise that the decision is down to me in the end and that no two cases are the same but would welcome and appreciate any thoughts, especially from members who have had experience with testicular tumours  in their setters or had older dogs put under general anaesthetic for something else. Goes without saying really that I love my boy to bits and only want to do what's best for him.

I should also mention that with the exception of some arthritis and being on medication for an underactive thyroid, Mitch is in good condition and when we're out walking people often say how good he looks for his age.






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I am sorry Mitch has got testicular cancer.It is an awful thing for you to face.

If Mitch was 14 I would say leave well alone but as he is well and, if his blood tests don't show any other serious problems ,then I would risk the operation.I think it might extend his life whereas ,if you don't,the risk is not so much from the cancer but from the cancer causing the skin to ulcerate.It can also cause him problems with urination and ,maybe,his bowels.I have had elderly setters operated on, with much worry by my wife and me ,but all have come through well,the worst problem was that two lost their ability to bark.

Good luck in whatever decision you make and let us know what you decide.

Hi Tony,

I'm also sorry to hear that Mitch has testicular cancer,  I had one of my oldies castrated when he was 9 1/2 years old, he had testicular lumps so I had him done as a precaution, thankfully the lumps turned out to be nothing other than fatty lumps, but I'm so glad I had him neutered.  He had always been a skinny dog, which was very unusual for my English Setter lines, he suddenly developed this wonderful body and he was like a puppy again. We sadly lost him at 12 years old, I know he isn't as old as Mitch but, if it were me faced with the decision then I would definately opt for the surgery.

Best of luck with whatever you decide :-)

Hi Tony,

Sorry to hear about Mitch and hope all turns out OK.

If I were in your place, and the blood tests were OK, I'd surely go ahead with the surgery. I had a dog diagnosed with testicular cancer at 11 years old, and he had a serious heart condition by that time. I spent two months trying to decide what to do. My vets advised me to go ahead with the surgery - even though it has more risks in a sick dog (liver, heart, kidneys, ..) there are anaesthetic protocols made specially for each condition the dog might have. My dog had to be put down after the two months because the cancer spread to his brain and lungs. This was very unlikely, but still happened, so if I had a chance to change it, my dog would have gone to surgery on the very day he was diagnosed.

If your dog looks fine and is an active dog for his age, then most likely there will be no serious condition that will put his life in a higher risk during the surgery. Plus, a castration is normally a simple procedure, it doesn't take long and dogs recover rapidly. Of course with cancer things can be a bit harder, I'd surely take my chances!


Best of luck to you and Mitch

Decision made then! My heartfelt thanks for your kind replies,  too upset to say much more, but will definately get back to you as soon as I can.


Please do and I am sure Mitch will bounce back.

Hi Tracy, good to hear that things worked out fine for your dog, and thanks for letting me know as it's certainly helped lift my spirits a bit. I may have been thinking a bit too negatively, especially about the anaesthetic, but reading the posts here have certainly helped ease my concerns.

I'll be taking Mitch to the vet at 9.30am on tuesday, I think surgery hours are from noon to 2pm - fingers crossed that his blood tests will be ok. I'll let you all know the outcome as soon as I  can.




The very best of luck on Tuesday, Tony.  Will be waiting patiently for the good news. 

Hoping to hear that Mitch is doing well tomorrow night and that things have gone smoothly.  Good Luck,

Molly and Sherry

Good news it is indeed!!! (didn't know you were clairvoyant Lynn :))....recieved a phone call from my vet to say the op went well and Mitch is just fine. The blood tests did show a borderline problem with his liver (will find out more about that later) so he was put on fluids as a precaution. Other than that it's all systems go and I'll be bringing him home in a couple of hours. The tumour is being sent for a biopsy - obviously still have concerns there, but meanwhile my family and I are just looking forward to having our beautiful boy back home with us.

Again my sincere thanks for all your advice and warm words of support,  special thanks to Teresa - any doubts that I had about surgery for Mitch simply evaporated after reading your post.

Great news,I am very happy for youand Mitch.

Mitch will wonder what has happened, my dog kept looking for his balls!

I'm really glad to hear Mitch is doing fine.

I hope he fully recovers really soon!

Best wishes to you, Mitch and your family,


Teresa, Pitanga and Romã

Cheers Howard,  yep, I don't think it will be long before Mitch is wondering where they're gone as he's always been quite weighty in that department!

Vet said she would keep an eye on his liver as enzymes were a tad high, though nothing to be concerned about for now.






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