World's oldest penguin undergoes cancer radiation - Monday 15th December 2014

Happy feat: World's oldest penguin undergoes cancer radiation at Colorado State University vet hospital Tess, the world's oldest African penguin, is back paddling her happy feet in the Pueblo Zoo pool having had an aggressive form of skin cancer on her face removed - with Colorado State University veterinarians using specialized radiation therapy to treat her. Two weeks ago a CSU veterinary team prepared to treat the sarcoma between Tess's beak and right eye. The tumor was discovered a couple months ago after Zookeepers noticed injuries around Tess's eyes that failed to heal after a minor squabble over a nest box. Dr. Kathy Wolyn, Pueblo Zoo veterinarian decided to pursue further treatment for her tumour. She surgically removed the mass and sent tissue samples to the Colorado State University (CSU) Veterinary Teaching Hospital for analysis. The tumor was cancerous, and quickly reemerged after the initial procedure. Wolyn says: "Whenever we remove a mass, there are always microscopic pieces that get left behind. With my capabilities at the zoo, I could only do so much. CSU gives us access to new knowledge and technology." Tess's treatment at CSU involved veterinarians, residents, interns, staff and students from exotics, oncology, radiology, anesthesiology and other speciality units. A CT scan confirmed a 1-by-1-by-.5 centimetre tumour, about the size of a pinto bean, on the right side of Tess's face. Dr. Jamie Custis, a radiation oncologist, hoped the small tumor could be mitigated with a single 21-minute, 59-second dose of electronic brachytherapy - a form of radiation delivered with state-of-the-art technology, which focuses beams so well that nearby tissues and organs are not harmed. Tess left the hospital that same evening, and snored the entire three-hour ride home, while nuzzled in her keeper's arms. In the two weeks since her treatment, the radiation has begun to cause the tumour tissue to die and slough. It will be weeks before doctors see t - Fort Collins Colorado United States - Monday 15th December 2014 (5 images)

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