Skin Cancer in Dogs - Page 2

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Skin Cancer in Dogs

By: Dr. Kimberly Cronin

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Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize skin cancer and exclude other diseases. The ability to treat a skin cancer successfully depends upon the type of cancer and how advanced it is at the time of diagnosis. Tests that your veterinarian may wish to perform include:

  • Cytology, which is microscopic examination of cells obtained from an aspirate of the tumor or a biopsy

  • Biopsy, which is removal of portion of the tumor so that it can be evaluated cytologically or with histopathology, in which the tissue is fixed and then sectioned prior to examination under a microscope

  • Complete blood count (CBC)

  • Serum chemistry panel

  • Urinalysis

  • Chest radiographs (X-rays)to determine if the tumor has spread to the lungs


    Treatment for skin cancer depends on the type of tumor that is present and how advanced the disease is at the time of diagnosis.

  • Surgery may be performed if the tumor has not spread and the entire tumor can be removed without compromising function of the associated tissues. Occasionally it is used to reduce the size of a tumor so that other treatment can be more successful.

  • Radiation therapy may be considered for some tumors, particularly when the entire tumor cannot be removed surgically.

  • Chemotherapy may be considered for some types of tumors, particularly for those that have spread to other tissues.

  • Cryosurgery is a procedure where the tumor and adjacent skin are frozen. It is generally considered for use only with small tumors.

  • Photodynamic therapy is a new treatment modality that uses a dye injected into the blood stream that localizes in cancer cells. A laser of a particular wavelength is then used to excite the cells and cause cell death.

    Home Care and Prevention

    Examine your dog's skin on a regular basis. If you note a new lump, a sore that does not appear to heal, or other changes in the skin seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

    After surgery monitor the incision for redness, swelling or discharge. Alert your veterinarian if any of these signs are noted.

    Avoid prolonged exposure of your dog to sunlight. This is particularly important if your dog has light colored skin.

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