This reference thread will be used to document his condition and ongoing progress.
This first picture was taken in late November, 2003, when Angel was perhaps 5 months over. Note the single freckle on his left flank, and a cyst on his front shoulder. The rest of his skin is clear -- although he had several spots of ringworm at the time (not shown).
Over the course of the last year, Angel developed 15-20 "freckles" -- spots that could have been anything from simple grizzling (hair faults and associated skin discoloration) to skin cancer.
In the last 2 months, several of those spots became raised and showed signs of darkened centers. We decided to have two of the largest and most threatening spots biopsied.
This second picture was taken 3 weeks ago, just before his surgery:
A larger photo, showing the darkened center of one of the spots more clearly, can be found here.
The lab results came back two days ago -- melanoma in both places that were biopsied. The mitotic activity appears to be low, meaning this may be slow growing. One of the skin samples showed clear at the edges, but the other had signs of cancer even at the margins.
SOURCE/HISTORY: 1.5 year old hairless, castrated male guinea pig. Several months’ history of increased size of darkened pigmented areas on hairless guinea pig. Biopsies from A) Right lateral thorax B) Left lateral thorax submitted. All tissue processed.
MICROSCOPIC FINDINGS: SLIDES (A&B) BOTH SPECIMENS: Acanthosis with fairly prominent junctional activity by mildly atypical round oval cells, some with distinct brown granular pigment; suspicious of multicentric melanoma formation.
PROGNOSIS: See comments.
COMMENTS: A similar process was observed in the two specimens. There were round oval cells observed exhibiting fairly prominent junctional activity. In some areas these cells contained no appreciable cytoplasmic pigment; however in other areas they contained a small amount of brown granular cytoplasmic pigment. Similar cells were observed in low numbers in the underlying dermis. The cells in general exhibited mild atypia only and mitotic figures were rarely seen. Overall morphologic characteristics with routine stains are most suggestive of multicentric melanoma formation. In a brief literature search I found no documentation of cutaneous melanomas in pet guinea pigs or in lab animal guinea pigs. Thus, predicting the behavior of this melanocytic process is quite difficult. The fact that it is multicentric is worrisome. Additional cutaneous tumor formation is possible and metastasis must also be considered a possibility. I would appreciate any further feedback/follow-up on this case. The lesion from the right lateral thorax appeared completely excised. Some mildly atypical, poorly pigmented malanocytes were observed extending very close to lateral margins in the specimen from the left side.
Larger images of these can be found
Size of those photos may vary depending on the size of your browser screen. But if you save the photos to your computer, you can see the photos in full resolution.
Note that there are 4 or 5 other spots still remaining which appear troublesome.
And in case you were wondering, he is an indoor pig -- with no exposure to direct sunlight.
Our approach will be "watchful waiting". We will monitor the growths and look for signs of enlarged lymph nodes. We may excise the worst of the other spots if this doesn't appear to be aggressive.
Asymmetry. Normal = symmetrical. Abnormal = half the mole does not match the other.
Border. Normal = regular edges. Abnormal = irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
Color. Normal = uniform. Abnormal = not uniform, may be differing shades of tan, brown, or black, so metimes with patches of red, white, or blue (remember this is in a human, and it sounds like an American human).
Diameter. Normal = about size of pencil eraser. Abnormal = larger in size, perhaps increasing in size.
Do any of these seem to apply to Angel?
The one on the lower right was one of those removed. I don't have a good picture of the other one that was biopsied -- however, it was shaped like the Greek capital letter Phi.
Both of those that were removed were nearly the diameter of a pencil eraser. The others are half that size.
Needless to say, I find the following line troubling: "Metastases to the skin and internal organs were multiple and eventually fatal for the animals."
By the way -- I forgot to mention the excellent support given by Dr. Lynn of the All Pets Hospital in San Francisco... and the work of pathologist Chris Schiller of Antech Diagnostics. Both are interested in Angel's welfare and in following up on whatever develops from here.
Angel may be the oldest of our Skinnies. He was certainly the biggest, but still I don't think he was an adult when he arrived here. He is probably between 1 1/2 and 2 years old. All the Skinnies from our group are over 1 year old and most, including the black ones, have similar spots -- although not nearly as many as Angel.
The person who was breeding these Skinnies once told another breeder that his sows lived only 2 years, but that might have been because he was backbreeding them. My sources say that their Skinnies live 3 to 4 years on average. I sent some queries around to Skinny fanciers and none had pigs with melanoma.
Have you asked your vet whether or not the severe ringworm could be a factor in the melanoma, other than the fact that it indicates immunodeficiency?
Heart has had no changes at all. Gretchen also no changes. Bliss is very Himi in looks.
Although it seems a fair bet that this is a hairless pig issue it may not be. We just have the opportunity to see any skin changes with hairless pigs.
I am still contacting other Skinny owners and rescuers to see if anyone has seen similar spots.
From Judi of MPGR (reprinted with permission):
I have 7 hairless pigs. 2 are not totally albino and have dark eyes. They have no spots. Out of the 5 who are albino, 3 have spots, but as far as I know, they are all round and not raised at all. My oldest is almost all dark skinned, and he (Charlie) is almost 4.
She then added this comment:
Some of the spots are actually oval and not round. But they aren't irregular. And they aren't raised. And they all developed them when young adults, not when they were under a year. I thought that was wierd. Like age spots in humans.
I had thought that where they first came from, they were kept outside? For humans, getting one really bad sunburn can really mess up your skin. Although, if Winky has spots and was born here, he wasn't in the sun ever.