Skin cancer in dogs is the most prevalent form of cancer, and along with cancer of the mammary glands it constitutes over half of all cancers that occur in dogs.
Cancer in dogs is an unrestrained malignant growth or tumor induced by abnormal cell division. Cancer can disperse to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system or the blood stream. Broadly speaking, cancer is usually associated with the organ it affects and termed as such.
Carcinoma and sarcoma, the two out of the four main types of cancer, are the ones that generally occur in the skin of a dog that need to be distinguished for treatment purposes. Skin cancer normally involves four different types of cells and is split up into four categories as such.
* Epithelial tumors are related to the skin, skin glands and hair follicles.
* Mesenchyme tumors are cancers resulting from cells that support fat, connective tissue, blood vessels and nerves.
* Round cell tumors include cancer of the external sex organs, mast cell tumors and plasma cell tumors.
* Melanomas are cancer of the cells responsible for pigment in the skin.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer in dogs. Carcinoma is a term that refers to a cancer that at first starts in the cells and encircles an organ entirely. Another form of carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, grows gradually and does not ordinarily spread to other parts of the body.
Another common form of skin cancer in dogs is related to mast cells that control clotting of the blood and permeability of blood vessels. Mast cell tumors are generally malignant and arise from connective tissue. Allergic reactions may trigger mast cell in a manner that any genetic or environmental predisposition can result in transforming these cells into a cancerous state.
The symptoms of liver cancer in dogs and cancers connected to other organs bring about symptoms like diarrhea, appetite loss, seizures, weight loss and certain immune mediated ailments. Waiting for clinical symptoms of skin cancer, however, can often result in delay in treatment.
Discovering signs of skin cancer in dogs calls for regular examination of the skin of your dog, preferably at monthly intervals. Inspect the skin beneath the hair and look for any new growth, change in color and increase in size of any previous growth. Tumors that bleed easily or lesions and abrasions that do not heal even after treatment should be reported to a veterinarian at once.
Likewise, a swelling in the breast tissue or a discharge oozing out of nipples also demands immediate attention of a specialist. Make certain that you inspect the whole body including the base of the tail.
Treatment of skin cancer is similar to treatment of other types of cancer, but depends on the degree to which the cancer has evolved, chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgical excision of a tumor are the three such alternatives.
Besides guaranteeing a healthy and a natural diet, all that you can do to prevent skin cancer is not to expose your dog to known carcinogens. Dogs that have a family history of skin cancer, particularly mast cell tumors, are more predisposed to develop skin cancer from exposure to allergens due to the hereditary genetic defects. Exposure to sun, which is a major reason behind feline cancer of the skin, can be every bit as hazardous for dogs with a light colored skin.
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