5 Most Common Cancers in Dogs
As with humans, dogs are susceptible to a number of diseases. Unfortunately, this includes canine cancer. Cancer in dogs is relatively common, and the Veterinary Cancer Society estimates 1 in 4 dogs will develop cancer at some point, and almost 50% of dogs over age 10 will develop cancer. Below are the most common types of cancer in dogs, which affect vital organs, tissues, blood, and bones. We will also discuss common cancer symptoms and treatment options.
Mast Cell Tumors
The most common canine cancer, mast cell tumors appear as a nodule or mass in the skin. They can vary in appearance, from being a lump under the skin to red and swollen. Aside from such masses, it can also impact the spleen, liver, intestine, and bone marrow. Mast cell tumors in dogs can be benign or aggressive and are often treated with surgery to remove the mass and/or chemotherapy. This type of cancer is most prevalent in Boxers, Bull Terriers, Boston Terriers, and Labrador Retrievers.
Lymphoma in dogs is strikingly similar to non-Hodgkins lymphoma in humans. A lymphoma refers to a variety of cancers that stem from Lymphocytes – white blood cells that helps the immune system fight off infection. With these cells primarily being located in the immune system (lymph nodes, the spleen, and bone marrow) this is where lymphoma cancer is most often found. It is often indicated by swollen lymph nodes. Like humans, lymphoma is typically treated with chemotherapy, and in some cases radiation or surgery. Golden retrievers are the most common breed affected by lymphoma.
A malignant tumor of the bone, Osteosarcoma forms due to the abnormal growth of cells that create and break down bone. It typically affects long bones, such as legs and arms, but can affect any bone. A common indication that your dog may have Osteosarcoma is lameness, swelling, or pain. Your dog may become reluctant to play or move at all. Osteosarcoma is usually aggressive and spreads very rapidly. Treatment can range from chemotherapy to amputation of the affected limb, radiation, and pain therapy.
While a common oral cancer in dogs, a melanoma tumor can be found anywhere on the body. Often aggressive, these tumors are quick to spread throughout the body and are frequently deemed incurable. Treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery are often ineffective. While under development, immune-based therapies are thought to be promising. This type of cancer is most common in Standard and Miniature Schnauzers, Doberman Pinschers, and Chow Chows.
Mammary Gland Carcinomas
Mammary gland carcinomas typically occur in female dogs that are either not spayed or were spayed after 2 years of age. It is estimated that 50% of mammary tumors are benign and 50% are malignant. Appearing as small nodes around the nipples, this type of cancer is often overlooked until they grow large and red or become an open sore. In some cases, it can be treated with surgery and chemotherapy, although in others it can be fatal. To decrease a female dog’s risk for mammary gland carcinoma, it is recommended that they are spayed before their first heat.
Cancer symptoms in dogs vary by condition, however, some symptoms are present across the board. These can include but are not limited to: Sores that change in size frequently or take a long time to heal. Loss of appetite or weight loss. Difficulty eating swallowing or breathing. Difficulty when going to the bathroom. Lack of activity or sudden swelling on parts of the body. You should regularly inspect your dog for early warning signs and seek a vets opinion if you are concerned. Keep in mind, the earlier cancer is detected the better.