Like humans, both dogs and cats can suffer from cancer in almost any part of their bodies.   They can develop tumors and malignant rapid, uncontrolled cell production.  This can occur in the major organs, (like lungs, kidneys, etc.) or in the blood, the nervous system, bones, skin and gastrointestinal tract. Find out some quick facts about the kinds of cancer that often assail dogs, the statistics of canine cancer in the U.S., and which dog breeds have the highest susceptibility.

Common Types of Canine Cancer

Mast Cell Tumors: This is a malignant tumor made of immune cells (mast cells), which may be found anywhere, but are most common around the skin.

Bladder Cancer: This can incur urinary obstruction in a variety of breeds, and may not be evident in symptoms for several months.

Mammary Carcinoma: These tumors most often afflict female dogs who have not been spayed. Fortunately, only 50% of mammary tumors are malignant, and can usually be cured by removing the tumor.

Brain Tumors: Generally evident from seizures, and symptoms that mimic epilepsy, dogs that suffer from brain tumors can be treated by radiation therapy in cases where surgery is not possible.

Squamous Cell Carcinomas:  This kind of cancer manifests in places like the toes, nailbeds and mouth of dogs. It is one of the most common kinds of cancer that affects canines.

Lymphoma:  Cancer of the lymph nodes/glands tends to occur between 2-5 times more frequently in dogs than other kids of cancer.  The nodes swell up and can be felt just below the skin; the cancer is generally treatable by chemotherapy and radiation.

Melanoma: Skin cancer is commonly found in dog who have deeply pigmented or dark skin. It can appear as lumps and bumps in hair-covered skin, or wrinkly flat areas in bare and exposed skin areas. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy and surgical removal of the infected area have been used to tackle this form of cancer, but may not be effective against highly metastasized tumor cells.

Other kinds of cancer: Testicular cancer, osteosarcoma (bone cancer), and hemangiosarcoma (tumor of the cells that line next to blood vessels, and is unfortunately incurable.)

Cancer Facts

  • There are over 80 million dogs in the United States; of that number, some 20 million of them are expected to die of cancer.
  • The majority of Golden Retriever dogs (over 60%) die from cancer.
  • When a dog is over 10 years old, he is more than 50% more likely to die of some kind of cancer.
  • Fortunately, in the last 15 years or so, pet oncology has taken enormous strides towards creating viable treatments for canine cancer.  These now are very close to the treatments available to human cancer patients.

Breeds most likely to suffer from some form of cancer

  • Boxer (brain cancer and lymphoma)
  • Bernese Mountain Dog (soft tissue cancer)
  • Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers  (lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma)
  • Pug (mast cell tumor)
  • Greyhound (osteosarcoma)
  • Chow Chow (cancer of the stomach)
  • Collie (nasal cancer)
  • Shar Pei (mast cell tumor)
  • Scottish Terrier (bladder cancer and melanoma)
  • Cocker Spaniel (lymphoma)
  • English Springer Spaniel (mammary gland cancer)
  • Rottweiler (osterosarcoma)
  • Flat Coated Retriever (melanoma and bladder cancer)

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