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Dog skin cancer

Dog Skin Cancer

The most common site for cancer to occur in a dog is on its’ skin.

Skin cancers are divided into categories depending on the cell type. The most common dog tumors are mast cell tumors, papillomas, lipomas and sebaceous gland adenomas/hyperplasia. The tumors may develop anywhere on the body or internal organs but common sites include the limbs, especially posterior upper thigh, the thorax and the ventral abdomen.
Skin cancer in dogs usually occurs in those who are around 6 - 14 years of age.

There are however, several types of skin cancer that occur in younger dogs too. Certain breeds like Basset hounds, boxers, Scottish terriers, Norwegian elkhounds, Weimaraners, Kerry blue terriers and bull mastiffs are more prone to skin cancer than others. Most canine skin cancers appear as sores that take time to heal or as lumps underneath the skin.

Be sure to examine your dog every month by separating the hair and closely looking at the skin. Contact your vet if you notice any of the following dog skin cancer symptoms:-

  • Sores that do not heal
  • Tumors that bleed
  • Discharge from a nipple or swelling around the breast area
  • An area that your dog is always licking or scratching
  • A change in the size or color of a growth or a new growth
  • Wounds that are scaly or crusty

Remember that other diseases have symptoms similar to skin cancer. These could be an abscess, skin/nail infections, cysts or an immune meditated disease like pemphigus or systemic lupus.

Dog skin cancer treatments
depend on type of tumor and the stage the disease is in when diagnosed. Diagnostic tests such as biopsy, cytology, chest x-rays, urinalysis, complete blood count (CBC) and serum chemistry panel will be carried out to determine the kind of treatment required. Treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, cryosurgery, chemotherapy and photodynamic therapy. Certain drugs like prednisone may also be prescribed.

The cause of most skin cancers is not known. Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause two kinds of cancer: hemangioma and squamous cell carcinoma. Light colored dogs with thin hair are at a higher risk at getting either of the two mentioned above. Genes also play a role in the development of certain cancers. As with any kind of cancer, but more so with skin cancer it is vital to identify and treat the disease in the early stages.

  Submitted on May 20, 2010  

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