Did you know that cancer is not just a human condition? It affects our pets as well. In fact, cancer is the number one disease-related killer of dogs and cats. Just like with humans, the sooner the cancer is found the better. During a comprehensive exam, one of the main things we look for are lumps and bumps.
There are few things that will startle you more than discovering a lump or bump on your dog or cat. You may be snuggling or petting your pet to find that there is something there that wasn't there before. Now, not all lumps and bumps on or under your dog or cat’s skin will be cancerous, but there is no way to know for sure without getting your veterinarian involved – this is especially important if the lump is not resolving itself or is growing in size.
Many times the lumps can be “lipomas”, or fat deposits under the skin. They are soft, rounded, non-painful masses, and usually present just under the skin. They are common and usually present no problems. However, A needle aspirate is commonly done and a veterinarian can let you know if the cells are cancerous or not.
In most cases, lipomas do not have to be removed. However, there are occasions tumors grow to a very large size, or are in a location that is causing a pet an issue. In those cases, surgical removal may be recommended.
Types of Lumps and Bumps
Cysts, warts, infected hair follicles, hematomas (blood blisters) and others do cause concern and can create discomfort for the dog, though non-cancerous lumps have less health impact than cancerous growths.
Cancerous growths on dogs can be either malignant or benign. Malignant lumps tend to spread rapidly and can metastasize to other areas of the body. Benign growths tend to stay in the place of origin and do not metastasize; however they can grow quite large, and become difficult to remove (see such an example of inoperable tumor pictured on the right).
How is this diagnosed?
For superficial or subcutaneous lumps, a needle aspirate can be done. In some cases, further diagnostics are needed to determine if a mass has metastisized. Your pet may require ultrasound, CT scan, or radiographs.
Treatment can range from surgical removal to referral to a specialist for chemotherapy and radiation. Sadly, there are times where removal of a limb is necessary if the tumor is aggressive. Your veterinarian will be able to speak with you about the best option of care for your pet.
Take a good surface inventory of your dog or cat today, and take your pet to the veterinarian every year for their physical check- up. Your veterinarian is looking for many things, lumps or bumps just being one of many. If you are in Cypress, Texas, come visit our practice. New clients will get a free comprehensive exam for their pet! Give us a call at 281-970-0601.
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