It's a new information for many pet parents, but skin cancer is quite common in both dogs and cats. Skin cancers are basically the tumor on skin or subcutaneous tissue (the tissue under the skin). 60 to 80% of tumors in pets are benign, meaning, they are just appear on the body but doesn't affect by any mean. Lipomas (fatty tumors, sebaceous adenomas, papillomas (mole-like growth) are benign tumors. Melanomas, Squamous cell carcinoma and Mast cell tumor are most common malignant tumors in pets that require medical attention.
Types of Cancer in Pets
There are number of cancers that have been diagnosed in dogs and cats, among which Melanomas, Squamous cell carcinoma and Mast cell tumor are most common and fatal.
It affects pigmented cells known as melanocytes. This tumor grows fast and and spreads to other organs such as lungs and liver. It is more frequent in dogs but much less in cats.
Signs and Symptoms
Benign melanomas vary in sizes ranging from very small to 2.5 inches in diameter. It appears in the area of skin covered with hair. It may be black, brown, gray or red in color. In orange cats, freckles on lips and gums can appear which is very normal and harmless. It is known as letingo simplex.
Malignant melanomas appear on the body parts where is less or no hair, such as mouth, lips, toenail pads and/or pads of the feet. It is more common in black dogs.
First procedure of melanomas treatment is surgery. If surgery is unable to remove the tumor, radiation therapy is applied. 70% times it is successful but recurrence is common. Depending on the severity of the tumor, chemotherapy is also used combining with surgery and/or radiation therapy. In case of oral melanoma, vaccination is a popular practice.
Squamous Cell Carcinomas
The tumor affects thinly furred skin. It doesn't spread but can be aggressive and may lead to destruction of tissue around the tumor. Though the cause of this cancer is still unknown, most of the times it is induced by exposure to the sun. That is why, the best preventive measure for this is to limit the exposure of your pets to the sun.
All the pets are prone to this tumor, yet pets with short coats, especially with light skin are likely to develop it much faster. It typically appears on the dogs of age 6 to 10 years.
Signs and Symptoms
This tumor is firm and raised with a wart-like appearance. It appears on abdomen, around genitals and feet.
Surgical measures are used to remove squamous cell carcinomas. Photodynamic therapy is used to cure this tumor in inoperable locations. Use of a drug called Piroxicam has proven effective in developing immune system within the body of the animal to fight back the tumor cells.
Mast Cell Tumors
It occurs in the mast cell of the immune system. It is common in both cats and dogs. It sometimes disappears and returns back in few days. This can be confusing for pet parents to predict the disease. Although it is common in most of the breeds, Labrador retrievers, Boxers, Pugs and Golden retrievers are predisposed to develop this tumor.
Signs and Symptoms
Mast cell tumors are slow growing, rubber-like tumor. It is unusual skin masses, specially raised, hairless pinkish-yellow masses. These appear on trunk but 25% times it is on the legs. Itching, swelling and redness occurs in unbearable amount.
Like other tumors, first attempt of cure is through surgery for mast cell tumors, too. That may include radiation or may be not. Depending on the severity of the case, surgery might be accompanied by chemotherapy and/or steroids.
Veterinarians diagnose pet cancer using either of the two methods: biopsy or needle aspirate cytology. Biopsy involves removing of small amount of tissue from the tumor and testing. Whereas, in Needle aspirate cytology, a needle is used to remove a microscopic amount of cells from the tumor in order to examine cell structure.
Cancer is curable in pets if promptly identified. Take your pets to the veterinarian as soon as you seen any sign of cancer, do not ignore any. If it not cancer then it is a good news, but if it is, your pet will be cured in early stages.