Illustrated Articles

Dogs + Tumors

  • Hepatoid gland tumors are a type of cancer that develop from the sebaceous (sweat) glands of the skin. The most common location for these tumors to develop is the perianal area, and the most common tumor is the perianal adenoma. Perianal adenocarcinomas, and rarely perianal epitheliomas may also occur. These tumors appear as one or more small, round, pink, hairless, slow-growing nodules around the anus, and can sometimes ulcerate and become infected. Malignant tumors can grow much bigger and faster, invade the underlying tissue, and metastasize. Diagnosis may be made by fine needle aspiration, biopsy, or full excision of the tumor. Staging is recommended for adenocarcinomas. Treatment may involve surgical removal along with neutering, cryotherapy, laser ablation, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and occasionally hormone therapy. The prognosis is good with perianal adenomas, fair to poor with adenocarcinomas, and generally good with epitheliomas.

  • Intestinal tumors are uncommon in dogs and cats. There are many kinds, including leiomyosarcomas, lymphomas, adenocarcinomas, mast cell tumors, GISTs, plasmacytomas, carcinoids, and osteosarcomas (all malignant) and leiomyomas, adenomatous polyps, and adenomas (all benign). Most intestinal tumors are malignant. Intestinal tumors are more prevalent in older animals, males, and certain breeds. The signs of intestinal tumors vary according to the area of the intestinal tract that is affected, and can include vomiting, lack of appetite, lethargy and weight loss for the upper bowel and difficulty defecating, ribbon-like stools, and rectal prolapse with the lower bowel. Sometimes tumor ulceration causes anemia. Paraneoplastic syndromes are possible with the muscle tumors. Intestinal tumors may be diagnosed with imaging, endoscopy, or surgery, with a biopsy. Treatment may involve surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.

  • Primary liver tumors in dogs and cats are rare. There are 4 types: hepatocellular tumors, bile duct tumors, neuroendocrine tumors, and sarcomas. These cancers can be massive, nodular, or diffuse in form. In dogs, most liver tumors are malignant, while in cats, most are benign. The signs of liver tumors range from being asymptomatic to having inappetence, fever, lethargy, and weight loss; and less commonly, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; increased drinking and urination; and jaundice. Occasionally there are neurological signs, such as seizures. With tumor rupture and intrabdominal bleeding there may be weakness, collapse, and difficulty breathing. The diagnosis is based on history, clinical signs, exam findings, diagnostic imaging, and FNA or liver biopsy. A biopsy is best for a definitive diagnosis. Surgery is the treatment of choice for most primary liver tumors followed by chemotherapy. Chemoembolization is a newer treatment.

  • Lung tumors are considered rare in cats and dogs. Certain breeds are more predisposed to develop pulmonary tumors than others. Not all pets with pulmonary tumors exhibit clinical signs and are often diagnosed incidentally from routine chest X-rays. Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration or biopsy will confirm the diagnosis. Pulmonary carcinomas have a high tendency to metastasize, so full staging is recommended. Surgery is by far the most common treatment, though radiation therapy may be considered if surgery is not possible.

  • Lymphatic tumors are rare in pets. Lymphangiomas are benign and lymphangiosarcomas are malignant and have a moderate-to-high metastatic potential. Patients with lymphatic tumors typically have severe edema because of lymphatic obstruction. These types of tumors occur more frequently in young dogs and cats. Treatment usually involves surgical excision and chemotherapy may be used as a follow-up treatment in the case of lymphangiosarcomas.

  • Lymphocytes are specialized cells that function as part of the body's immune system, and are key cells in the body's ability to fight and prevent infection. Lymphocytes are found in the blood and tissues throughout the body, and are in particular concentration in lymph nodes and other 'lymphoid tissue'.

  • Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes and lymphatic system. This cancer may be localized to one particular region, or may spread throughout the entire body. Lymphoma is a relatively common cancer, accounting for 15-20% of new cancer diagnoses in dogs. The prognosis for lymphoma varies, depending on various characteristics that can only be determined by specialized testing.

  • The most common forms of cutaneous lymphoma are epitheliotropic lymphoma and dermal lymphoma. No specific risk factors or causes have been identified in the development of cutaneous lymphoma. Generally, cutaneous lymphoma can appear as various-sized irritated, ulcerated, or infected patches anywhere on the skin, including the gums, nose, or lip margins. These areas may become ulcerated and bleed, or become crusted. Secondary infections are possible. By far, the most common treatment for cutaneous lymphoma is chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the response to treatment, although initially encouraging, is typically short-lived, with gradual return of the tumors.

  • Mammary tumors in dogs are not very common in North America due to routine spay procedures. Hormones play a role in tumor development in dogs. Dogs spayed before their first heat have only a 0.5% chance of developing mammary tumors. Certain breeds appear to be predisposed to developing mammary tumors. Mammary tumors are typically not painful and are usually discovered during routine examination by your veterinarian. Staging is recommended in all cases due to the tendency for these tumors to metastasize. Surgery is typically the treatment of choice and chemotherapy may be recommended after surgery.

  • A mast cell tumor (MCT) is a type of tumor consisting of mast cells. Mast cell tumors most commonly form nodules or masses in the skin, they can also affect other areas of the body, including the spleen, liver, intestine, and bone marrow. MCTs are particularly common in Boxers, Bull Terriers, Boston Terriers, and Labrador Retrievers. This cancer is typically diagnosed via fine needle aspiration. This tumor's behavior is complex and depends on many factors. Despite the range in behavior and prognoses, MCTs are actually one of the most treatable types of cancer. Depending on the grade, surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy are treatments for MCTs.