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Tumors

  • Melanocytes are cells that produce a pigment called melanin. A melanoma is an abnormal production of these cells in a dysregulated manner that forms a nodule, mass, or other form of lesion. Melanomas of the skin may develop anywhere on the body and are not typically bothersome. Toe melanomas, however, can be much more painful and concerning for your pet's health. Melanomas are often black in color but some do not produce pigment (amelanotic melanoma). Fine needle aspiration or biopsy may be used for diagnosis. Melanomas of the skin and toes are treated surgically and radiation therapy may be discussed.

  • The phrase 'multidrug resistance mutation 1 (MDR1)' refers to a specific mutation that can occur at a gene known as the MDR1 gene, also known as the ABCB1 gene. Many herding breeds (most commonly Collies and Australian Shepherds) have a mutation at the MDR1 gene that makes them more sensitive to the negative effects of certain medications.

  • The two most common nasal tumors are nasal adenocarcinoma and nasal lymphoma. Clinical signs range from mild to severe, and may include respiratory distress, hemorrhage, and neurological problems. Staging is always recommended before primary therapy is pursued. Radiation therapy is usually pursued for localized disease. Chemotherapy is usually pursued for systemic disease.

  • Neuroendocrine cells produce specialized chemical substances called neuroendocrine hormones. These hormones affect the rates of specific chemical reactions in nearby cells or in other tissues throughout the body.

  • Oral papillomas (warts) are benign tumors of the epithelial lining of the mouth and throat caused by papillomaviruses. The esophagus may also be affected in severe cases.

  • Peripheral odontogenic fibroma (formerly known as fibromatous and ossifying epulis) is a benign, often slow-growing tumor that arises from periodontal structures. They can be further sub-classified as peripheral odontogenic fibromas and acanthomatus ameloblastomas. These tumors do not spread to other organs; however, extension to surrounding tissues is common. Treatment is dependent on size and location of the tumor. If surgery cannot be performed, radiation therapy is an excellent alternative for ameloblastomas given their high degree of response to radiation therapy.

  • Oral squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) are the most common oral tumor in cats, and second most common in dogs. These tumors are locally aggressive, with a possibility to metastasize. Regardless of the location of SCC, surgery is the typically the standard treatment. Radiation therapy may be recommended following surgery or as a primary treatment for palliative care. Staging is recommended for all cases. If metastasis is present chemotherapy is often pursued.

  • Oral fibrosarcomas are the third most common oral tumor in dogs. These tumors arise from the connective tissues of the oral cavity. They are locally aggressive with a low tendency to metastasize. Staging is recommended for oral tumors, and CT imaging is advised for planning treatment, whether surgical or radiation. These tumors may also affect the nasal cavity. Treatment involves surgical removal of the tumorous tissue. Radiation therapy may also be recommended.

  • Like humans, benign and malignant tumors occur in dogs’ mouths. Peripheral odontogenic fibromas (POF) are the most common benign tumors while oral melanomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and fibrosarcomas are the most prevalent malignant tumors in dogs. Diagnosis may be performed via fine needle aspiration or biopsy. Spread to mandibular lymph nodes does occur. Fine needle aspiration of the lymph nodes is recommended when malignant tumors are suspected. Tumor staging including laboratory testing as well as CT imaging helps to plan therapy.

  • Osteosarcomas are somewhat rare in cats and progress slowly. Osteosarcoma is very painful. The most common location where osteosarcomas develop in cats is the hindlimb. Amputation is by far the most common treatment. Chemotherapy is not generally pursued without evidence of metastasis, given the relatively long-term control with surgery alone.