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Primary Lung Tumors in Dogs (Lung Cancer, Pulmonary Neoplasia)

By: Dr. Erika de Papp

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Primary lung tumors are cancers that arise in the lung tissue of both dogs and cats. They are rare in both species, but slightly more common in dogs.

The most common type of tumor is a carcinoma. Carcinomas are malignant tumors that develop from the epithelial tissues in the lungs. They may be primarily derived from the lung tissue itself, or the airways or bronchioles.

The exact cause of lung cancer is not known, but there appears to be an increased incidence of cancer in dogs that live in urban environments, as well as dogs that are exposed to second hand smoke. Lung cancer is generally diagnosed in older animals, with an average age of about 11 years, but it can also be seen in younger pets.

There are no known predispositions with respect to breed or sex and the development of lung tumors. However, most lung cancer is seen in medium to large sized dogs.

What to Watch For

  • Chronic (long term) coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Trouble breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing up blood
  • Anorexia (lack of appetite)
  • Lameness

    Diagnosis

  • Complete history and physical exam
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Biochemical profile
  • Urine analysis
  • Chest radiographs (X-rays)
  • Abdominal radiographs or ultrasound exam
  • Fine needle aspirate of lung mass
  • Trans-tracheal aspirate or bronchoscopy
  • Mass biopsy

    Treatment

  • Surgical removal of the lung tumor
  • Chemotherapy may be recommended in selected cases.

    Home Care

    Monitor breathing patterns and monitor for recurrence of original clinical signs. Avoid exposure to second hand smoke.

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