Skin Cancer in Dogs

Skin cancer includes a broad range of tumors that include any kind of uncontrolled growth of the skin cells or any of the associated structures like hair follicles and glands or the supportive tissue. There are also incidences where tumors from other parts of the body would have spread to the skin but they are not skin tumors, as they did not start in the skin. Skin is the most common point for cancer to develop. Dogs have over six times more chances of getting skin tumor as compared to cats. However, the skin cancer in dogs is more likely to be benign as compared to that in cats.

Skin cancer frequently occurs in dogs that are of middle age, though there have also been incidences of skin cancer in younger dogs. There are many breeds that are sensitive to skin cancer like boxers, bullmastiffs, Scottish terriers, Basset hounds, Kerry blue terriers, Weimaraners, and Norwegian elkhounds. The cause behind the skin cancer is mostly unknown but exposure to sun has been shown to be one of the most major causes of skin cancer. Light colored dogs that have thin coats and spend more time in the sun are prone to skin cancer. There can also be some genetic causes for developing skin cancer in dogs.

In dogs it has been observed that the most common form of tumors are mast cell tumors, lipomas, sebaceous gland, and papillomas. The skin cancer in dogs appears as lumps in the skin or underneath the skin. It can also form a sore that does not heal. Dogs with skin cancer experience discomfort and itchiness on their coat because of the cancer. Some types of cancer might also show redness on the skin or give a flaky appearance.

There are a number of diagnostic tests that are carried out to determine skin cancer. Treatment of the skin cancer totally depends on the type of the cancer and the stage in which it is. Some of the tests that are performed include biopsy, urinalysis, complete blood count, cytology, chest radiographs and serum chemistry panel. The treatment depends on the diagnosis, some of the treatment regimens include:

• Surgery is performed in case the tumor has not spread. The tumor can be removed without causing any harm to any other function related to the tissue. At times it is used for reducing the size of the tumor for other treatments to work.

• Radiation therapy can be used for some tumors especially when the entire tumor is not removed by surgery.

• Chemotherapy is considered for tumors that would have spread to the other parts.

• Cryosurgery is another effective treatment where the tumor and the nearby skin are frozen.

It is important to keep examining the skin of your pet on a regular basis. If a lump is observed that does not heal or any other change in the skin of your pet, then it is important to get advice from the vet. After the surgery, you should monitor any kind of swelling, discharge or redness on the point of surgery. Important, lessen taking out your dog out in the sun.

1 comment

  1. Michael Gabrielson Reply
    July 3, 2012 at 9:48 am

    This is a very generic article. An overview at best. I would like information that would help determine a course of action. Our vet has determined that my pet has a mast cell tumor and has recommended removal with clear margins. I need more information to convince myself that this is the appropriate treatment choice. We already know the information given in this article. I need to know the aspects of how quickly we need to respond to the tumor, what if we opt to just have the tumor removes without clear margin, what is being done elsewhere in treating these type tumors, etc., etc.

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