Pet Tips from BellasPainRelief.com
We update our
tips every two weeks. If you would like to have our tips emailed to you, please
provide your email address and you can be sure never to miss an update!
you Should Know About Cancer in Animals
(This information has been prepared as a service by the American Veterinary
What is Cancer?
Cancer is an
uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells on or within the body. Cancer may be benign
or malignant. It may be localized or it may invade adjacent tissue and spread
throughout the body.
Common is Cancer?
Cancer is common
in pet animals and the incidence increases with age. Cancer accounts for almost
half of the deaths of pets over 10 years of age. Dogs get cancer at roughly
the same rate as humans, while cats get fewer cancers.
is it Diagnosed?
evidence of cancer can be attained from x-rays, blood tests, ultrasonography,
the pet's physical examination and medical history. Most cancers, however, will
require a biopsy (a removal of a piece of tissue) for confirmation that cancer
exists and to grade the level of severity from benign to aggressively malignant.
the cause of most cancers is not known and, therefore, prevention is difficult.
Early detection and treatment are the best ways to manage cancer in pets.
Types of Cancer in Pets
- Skin tumors are very common in older dogs, but much less common in cats. Most
skin tumors in cats are malignant, but in dogs they are often benign. Your veterinarian
should examine all skin tumors in a dog or cat to determine if any are malignant.
- 50% of all breast tumors in dogs and greater than 85% of all breast tumors
in cats are malignant. Spaying your female pet between 6 and 12 months of age
will greatly reduce the risk of breast cancer. Surgery is the treatment of choice
for this type of cancer. Follow up treatment may be recommended.
& Neck - Cancer of the mouth is common in dogs and less common
in cats. Signs to watch for are a mass on the gums, bleeding, odor, or difficulty
eating. Since many swellings are malignant, early, aggressive treatment is essential.
Cancer may also develop inside the nose of both cats and dogs. Bleeding from
the nose, breathing difficulty, or facial swelling are symptoms that may indicate
cancer and should be checked by your veterinarian.
- Lymphoma is a common form of cancer in dogs and cats. It is characterized
by enlargement of one or many lymph nodes in the body. A contagious feline leukemia
virus can be the cause of lymphoma in some cats. Chemotherapy is frequently
effective in controlling this type of cancer.
Leukemia Complex - The feline leukemia virus is contagious among cats
and will occasionally cause different types of cancer. It is not contagious
to humans. While a great deal of research is ongoing, no consistently effective
treatment is presently available for virus-positive cats.
- Testicular tumors are rare in cats and common in dogs, especially those with
retained testes. Most of these cancers are preventable with castration (neutering)
and curable with surgery if done early in the disease process.
Tumors - Tumors inside the abdomen are common but it is difficult to
make an early diagnosis. Weight loss or abdominal enlargement are signs of these
- Bone tumors are most often seen in large breed dogs and rarely in cats. The
leg bones, near joints, are the most common sites. Persistent pain, lameness,
and swelling in the affected area are common symptoms of the disease.
Many of the
above signs are also seen with noncancerous conditions but they still warrant
prompt attention by a veterinarian to determine the cause. Cancer is frequently
treatable and early diagnosis will aid your veterinarian in delivering the best
is Cancer Treated?
Each type of
cancer requires individual care and may include a combination of treatment therapies
such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, cryosurgery (freezing), hyperthermia
(heating) or immunotherapy. Once you have a diagnosis, your veterinarian will
discuss the best treatment option(s) for your pet. In some instances, your veterinarian
may refer you to a board-certified oncologist (cancer specialist) depending
upon the recommended course of treatment.
is the Success Rate?
depends upon the type and extent of the cancer, as well as the aggressiveness
of therapy. Some cancers can be cured and almost all patients can be helped
to some degree.
will have a better chance to control or cure your pet's cancer if it is detected
was developed with assistance from the Veterinary Cancer Society.
Common Signs of Cancer in Small Animals
that persist or continue to grow
Sores that do not heal
Loss of appetite
Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
Difficulty eating or swallowing
Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
Persistent lameness or stiffness
Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating
for More Information
American Veterinary Medical Association
of Veterinary Internal Medicine
has been prepared as a service by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Feel free to email
us and let us know if our tips have been useful or if
you have a useful tip you would like us to share.