That Lump…. I’m worried about it….. is it Cancer?

We commonly see pets with lumps, bumps, growths, warts or swellings that owners are understandably worried and concerned about.  Everyone knows cancer is serious and can be life threatening, and as our pets age cancer becomes a more common problem.  Many pets will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives, and although this is a chilling thought, there is much that can be done.  The good news is that most of the time these lumps and bumps are benign and are no risk to the health of your pet.

Even when lumps are more serious and not benign, with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, most cancers can be removed or treated in such a way that your pet is cancer free for the rest of their lives.  Even in the very worst cases, such as Bone Cancer, there are many options which provide happy and healthy lives for pets and allow them to live with their families for extended periods of remission (months and years).

Cancer diagnosis and treatment is one of the areas in which Better Pet Vets is most proficient.  Great care for a pet with cancer is best delivered by experienced veterinarians with varied diagnostic, surgical and medical skills, and facilities and nursing care that only a large clinic like ours can provide.  This care gives your pet the best chance of living the rest of their life cancer free.

Successful treatment relies on an accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment and ongoing monitoring. Any shortcuts in this course can have serious consequences – just as they would have in the treatment of humans.

The first step is an accurate diagnosis and an assessment of where it may have spread. Many tumours are benign and will not have spread anywhere, some invade or spread into adjacent tissue, while others can spread to distant tissues such as the liver, spleen or lung (metastatic disease).

It is vital to obtain an accurate diagnosis of the tumour type and the overall health of your pet, especially when surgery is being considered. After all, there may be little point doing major surgery if your loved pet is already suffering from another serious disease or if the cancer has spread to other non-operable areas. The steps in making this diagnosis and assessment are as follows:

1. A Biopsy of the lump to confirm the type of tumour and its likely behaviour (Is it only a local and cosmetic problem, or is it serious? Is it likely to spread? Where to? How fast will it grow? Will it cause other illness if not treated?) If the mass is identified as Benign at this stage, there may be little more that needs to be done.  The Biopsy itself is often a very quick, simple and inexpensive test which can usually be performed during the consultation.

2. A Full health check at your consultation will allow us to identify any pre-existing disease that may affect the prognosis (even if unrelated to the lump itself).

3. Checks for distant spread might be required depending on the type of tumour – this may involve chest x-rays or an abdominal ultrasounds for example.

4. When required or its desirable, we consult with a specialist oncologist for medical, surgical and chemotherapy planning and advice

My Pet does have cancer….. and I’m worried about the treatment.

Treatment of cancer usually (but not always) involves surgery. The role of surgery as the most effective form of cancer treatment is undisputed – more humans and pets have been treated and cured with surgery than with all other methods of treatment put together. A well planned and executed surgery will allow the tumour to be removed completely, with little risk of spread or recurrence.

Successful cancer surgery requires careful diagnosis and planning as outlined above, performed by skilled surgeons with meticulous surgical technique, and experience in plastic and reconstructive surgery.   Your pet also needs a nursing team that can give the best supportive care for your pet. We offer all of this for all of our patients when they are unfortunate enough to suffer from cancer.  We are committed to always giving you the best advice and options to get your pet cancer free and well again.

We use the services of specialist medical and surgical veterinary oncologists in surgical planning and in chemotherapy protocols when this is required.  Chemotherapy in our pets is very different to what we are accustomed to for the loved people in our life.  Side effects are infrequent and generally minimal. There are also many choices available including oral (tablet) only protocols for pets that don’t like coming to the vet.  We also have access to radiation therapy if needed to ensure complete removal of tumours from areas such as around the feet or on the face where complete removal of a tumour with surgery can be difficult

Holistic therapies can also have an important role in these patients as they can improve the strength and function of the immune system and help the patient to heal themselves.

Common cancers that we treat include:

  • Benign and Malignant Skin lumps or growths including Mast Cell tumours, Lipomas, Soft Tissue Sarcomas, and many others;
  • Liver, Spleen and Kidney cancer;
  • Oral (mouth)l masses and cancers;
  • Bone cancer,
  • Bladder cancer,
  • Mammary or breast cancer,
  • Intestinal or bowel cancer,
  • Lymphoma (leukaemia)

If you are concerned about a lump or bump on your pet, please ask us for help and advice.  If its benign, you’ll be glad you asked and will enjoy great peace of mind.  If it is actually a malignancy, we will provide you with all of the treatment options so you can choose the most appropriate treatment for your companion.  Call us and make an appointment so we can ensure your pet gets the best treatment, and can be healthy and well again.