In many ways, dogs are unique from other animals because they are susceptible to different types of canine cancer. Three of the most common cancer types found in dogs are Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Lymphoma, and Osteosarcoma. Part of responsible pet ownership is understanding these diseases and knowing their symptoms. This way, any pet owner can take immediate action to cure or prevent these diseases from getting more serious.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Also known as actinic keratosis, squamous cell carcinoma is a malignant tumor of the skin, particularly the epidermal cells. In such, the cells show variations in keratinocytes, which are what the epidermis is made of. These tumors, although they grow slowly, are aggressive. They are found in the areas in the epidermis where lack of pigmentation, coat or hair is present.
The primary considered cause of the disease is prolonged exposure to sunlight, or more particularly ultraviolet radiation. Some short haired light skinned breeds like Bulldogs, Bull Terriers, Beagles and Dalmatians can be especially susceptible.
When the dogs are exposed to ultraviolet radiation, their cells are genetically damaged without repair. If the immune system of the dog is weak, the cancer will most likely develop into malignancy.
The symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma in canines are raised and firm nodules and ulcerated plaques that resemble warts. These commonly develop in the dogs’ abdomen, in front of their genitals or sometimes on thier paws. Squamous cell carcinoma can be treated through surgery, administration of etretinate, and photodynamic therapy.
Lymphoma is identified as the appearance of malignant tumors in the dogs’ lymph nodes or organs such as the spleen and liver. Lymphoma can be present in the eyes, skin and the digestive track. There are many causes of this cancer type. It can be too much stress, chemicals, and genetics. Once a dog is diagnosed with lymphoma, you can typically expect a dog to live nine to twelve months more.
The fatality of dogs with lymphoma is attributed to organ failure. If a dog has lymphoma in its digestive tract, the cause of its death will be starvation. Lymphoma can appear anywhere in the dog’s body where lymph tissues are present.
Although lymphoma is fatal, it can be cured. In fact, its remission rate is higher than other cancers found in dogs. If diagnosed and treated early and intensively, chances of survival are increased. The most common treatment for dog lymphoma is chemotherapy.
Osteosarcoma affects the bones of middle aged to elderly dogs. The tumor starts deep within the bone. As it grows, it reaches the outer bone surface, destroying the bone in the process. When the tumor has grown, it will finally show signs of swelling. If a dog has osteosarcoma, its bones are replaced with timorous bones which can easily break and cause injury. Furthermore, the dog can suffer extreme pain caused by the tumor.
Osteosarcoma can be treated by amputation. In almost all amputation cases, the pain is resolved and further spread of the tumor is prevented. However, many pet owners are reluctant to undergo this treatment and chose chemotherapy. But it is important to note that dog survival after chemotherapy can only be as short as five months.
Like in human conditions, prevention is always better than turning to canine cancer treatments. To make sure that your dog is healthy, it is recommended to have it checked by a veterinarian regularly.