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Tumors

  • Soft tissue sarcomas are a broad category of tumor types. These tumors can arise anywhere there is soft tissue, including the limbs, joints, face, intestine and reproductive tissues. Routine staging is recommended to help dictate therapy. If surgery is possible, wide-surgical excision is pursued. If removal is incomplete or not possible, adjunct radiation therapy can be pursued. Metronomic chemotherapy may provide benefit in patients when few options exist.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a tumor of the cells that make up the contact or upper layer of the skin. UV light exposure has been described as a developmental factor in people and appears to be associated with the development in cats. Areas affected include the ear tips, skin, toes, or peri-ocular region. Fine needle aspiration or biopsy may be performed for diagnosis. The metastatic rate does not appear overly clear, though staging is always recommended. SCC of the toe can occur as a primary tumor or may have spread from the lung (lung-digit syndrome). Surgery is almost always recommended in any case of SCC; the role of chemotherapy is controversial. Radiation therapy has an excellent response rate in cats with the SCC affecting the nasal planum and may give long-term tumor control.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a tumor of the cells that make up the contact or upper layer of the skin. UV light exposure has been described as a developmental factor in people, though it is still in question as to the role for dogs. Several breeds are known to be predisposed to this type of cancer. This tumor may affect any area of the skin, the nose/nasal planum, or the toes. Fine needle aspiration or biopsy may be performed for diagnosis. About 30% of dogs with the digital form of the disease will have evidence of spread. Regardless of the location, surgery is typically the treatment of choice, and staging is usually recommended prior to any surgery. The role of chemotherapy remains controversial.

  • Stomach tumors are uncommon in dogs and cats. There are many kinds, including leiomyosarcomas, lymphomas, adenocarcinomas, mast cell tumors, fibrosarcomas, plasmacytomas, gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), and carcinoids (all malignant); and leiomyomas, adenomatous polyps, and adenomas (benign). Most tumors are malignant. Stomach tumors are more prevalent in older animals, males, and certain breeds. The signs of stomach tumors include chronic vomiting, inappetence, lethargy, and weight loss. Sometimes tumor ulceration will cause anemia. Paraneoplastic syndromes are possible with the muscle tumors. Stomach tumors may be diagnosed with imaging, endoscopy, or surgery, with a biopsy. Treatment may involve surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.

  • Skin gland, hair follicle, and sebaceous gland tumors are more commonly found to be benign. Matrical carcionoma and sebaceous gland adenocarcinoma are rare and more aggressive forms of the disease. Regardless of the type (sweat, hair, or sebaceous) diagnosis is made by fine needle aspiration, biopsy, and/or initial surgical removal and histopathology. In the majority of cases, surgery is recommended and other treatments are unnecessary. Chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy in pets with matrical carcinomas or sebaceous gland adenocarcinomas may be recommended.

  • The three most common testicular tumors are seminomas, Sertoli cell tumors, and interstitial cell tumors. Though other tumor types are possible, testicular tumors as a whole are generally not aggressive and have a low metastatic rate. Pets that are cryptorchid are predisposed to the development of Sertoli cell tumors and seminomas. Hyperestogenism is possible with Sertoli cell tumors. In any cryptorchid pet, removal of both testicles should be pursued. Intraabdominal tumors in cryptorchid pets may cause lethargy, decreased appetite, and fever. Standard staging is recommended in all cases, including a rectal exam. Surgery is typically the treatment of choice and may be combined with radiation therapy or chemotherapy if metastasis is evident.

  • Thyroid tumors can be benign or malignant and functional or nonfunctional. In dogs, they are usually malignant and nonfunctional, whereas in cats, they are usually benign and functional. A swelling in the neck may be the only sign in a dog, however a change in bark, coughing, difficulty swallowing, facial swelling, rapid breathing, breathlessness, weight loss, and a loss of appetite are possible. In cats, the signs are related to excess thyroid hormone production (hyperthyroidism). Thyroid tumors are diagnosed with a physical examination, bloodwork, various forms of diagnostic imaging, and in dogs, a tissue biopsy. In dogs, staging is required to determine the presence of spread. A variety of treatment options are available. These include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and radioactive iodine therapy in dogs, and medication, radioactive iodine therapy, surgery, and dietary therapy in cats. With appropriate treatment, the prognosis for dogs and cats with thyroid tumors is good.

  • Transmissible venereal tumors (TVTs) arise from immune cells called histiocytes. Dogs develop this tumor from direct contact with already affected dogs, most notably during sexual contact. The tumors typically develop on the penis, prepuce, vulva, and vagina, though can develop on the skin, eyes, oral, and nasal cavities as well. The tumors are usually cauliflower-like in appearance. Clinical signs are dependent on the location, but typically the tumors ulcerate and bleed. Metastasis is rare but can affect lymph nodes and other areas of the body. Treatment may include chemotherapy or radiation therapy (for those resistant to chemotherapy). Prognosis is usually good with a high response rate to chemotherapy.

  • Tumors are cancerous growths. They may be found on the surface of a bird's body or in the internal organs. Veterinary examination of any growth or lump is highly advised as tumors may grow rapidly or spread.

  • Malignant lymphoma (lymphosarcoma) and leukemia are among the most common malignancies seen in ferrets. Diagnosis may be made by fine needle aspiration or biopsy. For a dedicated owner with a compliant patient, surgery and/or treatment with chemotherapy is an option. Remission of lymphoma is possible with treatment in ferrets, but recurrence is common. Ferrets also commonly develop insulin-producing tumors of the pancreas that lower the ferret’s blood sugar and cause weakness, weight loss, lethargy, seizures, coma, and death. Insulinoma commonly spreads from the pancreas to the liver, so surgical removal of pancreatic insulinoma nodules may not be curative. Affected ferrets respond well for months to years to medical therapy with glucose-promoting drugs (prednisone) and anti-insulin drugs (diazoxide). Drugs suppress effects of the tumor but do not eliminate it; and ferrets on medical treatment must have their medications increased over time as the tumor grows.