Skin cancer on dogs is very common. There are several types of skin cancer in dogs. It is important to learn the difference in canine skin cancer and benign tumors. This can be difficult to do on the basis of appearance alone. The lump or bump may have to be removed by surgery to establish a diagnosis.
The following skin tumors are common in dogs. They are usually not malignant, but all have the potential to become malignant.
Sebaceous Adenomas are the most common. They are caused from oil producing skin glands and occur in older dogs. Cocker Spaniels are affected more than other breeds. They are light colored and usually less than an inch long,. They have a cauliflower like appearance. The skin surface may become ulcerated. About 25% are low grade cancers. If any of the adenomas are large, they should be removed. They are more likely to be cancer.
Mast Cell Tumors are commonly seen in older dogs. They are prevalent in Boxers and Boston Terriers. The average dog with a mast cell tumor is eight years old. The dog tumors may be seen on the lower abdomen, hind legs, and prepuce or foreskin of the penis. They are less than an inch long and are multi-nodular growths. When growth is rapid and size is greater than one inch dog cancer is more likely. Malignant mast cell tumors can metastasize to organs that are close.
Cortisone may be given to decrease the size of mast cell tumors. Surgical removal is the treatment of choice.
Epidermoid Carcinoma is a hard flat grayish looking ulcer that resembles a cauliflower and does not heal. The size is variable. it is most commonly seen on the feet and legs, but can be seen elsewhere. Due to constant licking the hair may be lost around the tumor. This dog tumor is malignant and should be removed.
Melanoma is a malignant neoplasm that sets its name from the brown or black pigment that is associated with it. It often develops in a pre-exiting mole. When a mole starts to enlarge or spread out, becomes elevated above the surface of the skin or starts to bleed, you should suspect melanoma. Melanoma skin cancer is more common in Scottish Terriers, Boston Terriers and Cocker Spaniels. All suspicious moles should be removed. Melanoma spreads widely and at an early stage.
Histiocytomas occur in younger dogs and are rapidly growing button like tumors. They are seen on the feet, face, and ears. They are dome shaped, raised, red irritated-looking and painful to the touch. Some Histiocytomas grow smaller and disappear on their own in a few weeks. Others may have to be removed.
If your dog has any canine cancer symptoms such as lumps, bumps, lesions, infections, ulcers, abrasions, diarrhea and loss of appetite, you should make an appointment with your vet.
It is important to check your dog from head to tail on a monthly basis for any signs of skin cancer. Early detection of dog cancer may be the key to saving your dogs life.
Your pet should be protected from the sun for long periods.