Not too long ago, when a dog owner learned that a dog had cancer, it meant a death sentence for the animal. But, thanks to advances in cancer research, things have changed.
Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of cells on or within the body. It may be localized, or it may invade adjacent tissues and spread throughout the body. Cancer is common in pet animals, and the rate increases with age. Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while cats get fewer cancers. Cancer accounts for almost half of the deaths of pets over 10 years of age.
Unfortunately, the cause of most cancers is not known and therefore prevention is difficult. One type of cancer, breast cancer, is largely preventable with early spaying. Fifty percent of all breast tumors in dogs are malignant. Spaying your pet prior to the first heat cycle will greatly reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Cancer can occur in almost any location or body system – for example areas such as the skin, gastrointestinal tract (stomach, bowels), urinary system (kidney or bladder), blood, nervous system (brain tumors) and bones.
Different types of tumors can grow in each location of the cancer. A cellular diagnosis is needed to determine the "type" of cancer. For example, cancer of the skin can be due to basal cell tumors, mast cell tumors, lymphosarcoma and fibrosarcoma. Each tumor type within a location has a different treatment and prognosis.
Signs of Canine Cancer
Do you know the signs of cancer in dogs? Dogs get many of the same types of cancer as humans, and frequent physical exams and diagnostic tests help detect cancer before it is too late for treatment. Some common types of cancer in dogs are:
If you notice any of the symptoms, consult with your veterinarian. If found early, most of these cancers can be cured with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of the three, and early diagnosis will aid your veterinarian in delivering the best care possible.
What to Watch For
Signs of cancer in dogs may include:
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