TUMORS: TWO BASIC CATEGORIES
Not generally life-threatening
Do not spread to other parts of the body
Do not invade neighboring tissue
Cured by surgery if the entire tumor is able to be removed
Generally always considered life-threatening
Damage healthy cells
Grow in an unrestricted way
Invade neighboring tissue
Spread to other parts of the body and establish growth in other areas after entering the lymphatic or circulatory system
Result of environmental factors or hereditary/genetic sources
Appropriate treatment dependent on the health of the animal and the size, location, and stage of the tumor
Veterinarians are able to detect a large number of cancers through a physical examination of the animal. Detection can occur through:
Cancers that appear as growths or sores on or beneath the skin
Inspection and palpation:
Cancers under the skin
Example: Testicular or mammary gland cancers
Swelling or lameness may indicate a cancer of the bone
Cancers that are found inside the body, such as in the spleen and liver, often show clinical signs before they are detected.
Common symptoms include:
PHYSICAL EXAMINATION RECOMMENDATIONS
Companion animals are living longer today. Good food and living conditions plus increased and better opportunities for health care, are all indicative of our desire to have our pets live a good, long life. Since most cancers are discovered in middle-aged and senior dogs, clients need to remain vigilant with their veterinary visits if they want to detect a cancer in its earliest stage. One recommendation is that healthy animals seven years and older be given at least one yearly examination.
Pet parents need to know that the annual physical examinations provide baselines and screening information that could reveal the start of a change in the health of their pet. Early detection could improve the prognosis and prolong the animal’s life expectancy.
Yearly checkups may include:
Complete blood count
Liver and kidney function tests
Early renal disease health screen
During the time between the yearly examinations, it is a good idea for clients to be aware of the warning signs of cancer. Any of the following symptoms indicate a need to schedule an appointment with the veterinarian.
Lumps that do not go away, or ones that grow in size
Wounds that do not heal
Abnormal discharges, such as blood, pus, diarrhea, vomiting
Sudden weight loss
Change in appetite
Changes in urinary or bowel habits
The warning signs do not always mean to expect a diagnosis of cancer; but if they do, clients who know to be watchful, observant, and to contact their veterinarian right away, may help to save their pet’s life.