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Mast cell tumor in dogs

Mast Cell Tumor Canines:

Canine mast cell tumors are the most common forms of skin tumors in dogs.

In fact, they account for nearly twenty percent of all cancerous growths in dogs. Initially, they may appear very small and insignificant; however, they can keep growing larger. They are an extremely serious kind of cancer.

Mast cells are a group of cells which actually occur normally on the skin and tissues; nonetheless, they are a part of the immune system of the body and contain many chemicals that are used in the defense of the body.

These cells contain large amounts of heparin, histamine, and enzymes which are used by the body to break down protein. These materials are used in getting rid of foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, and parasites. When the immune system triggers an alarm, the mast cells release these chemicals to fend off the foreign material.

Many mast cells begin growing abnormally to form a tumor, and because of the toxic chemicals that they contain, when they begin growing, they can cause many problems on the skin.

Due to its toxic chemical content, it is also dangerous to remove them or damage them. It has been seen that often, the sites from where these tumors are removed become difficult to heal. If there are large tumors on the body, removing them could have a dangerous effect on the blood pressure or the heart rate. These tumors could also have a detrimental effect on other parts of the body.

Doctors have still not been able to find the exact cause of the formation of these tumors. Since these tumors are only found in dogs, there hasn’t been a lot of research done on them. These tumors are usually seen on the limbs and the trunk of the dog. In some cases, the tumors can also form on the genital area of the animal. Though mostly found on the skin of dogs, in rare cases, these tumors may also appear in the subcutaneous layer.

There is no set pattern for the appearance and growth of these tumors. These tumors are not necessarily harmful all the time. In some cases, the tumors can be benign. They can be found anywhere on the body and can cause the skin to be bumpy. They are often smooth, but can even be ulcerous if the skin gets injured in the particular area where tumors have appeared.

Dogs with mast cell tumors often show systemic signs. There may be blood in the urine or the stool of the dog. There may even be abnormalities in the clotting of blood. These problems are usually caused due to the histamines and enzymes that are released by these mast cells.

  Submitted on February 10, 2010  

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