Treatment of Animal Skin Cancer

By: SA Perillo

Skin cancer has been the prevailing type of cancer common in dogs while second in cats. It has been affecting dogs in their middle ages, specifically those who are in their six years up to fourteen years of age. Although not all breeds of dogs seem to acquire skin cancer, normally breeds such as Boxers, Scottish terriers, bull mastiffs, basset hounds, weimaraners, jerry blue terriers as well as the Norwegian elkhounds have been diagnosed the most with skin tumors.

It is a known fact that cancer, of any type and whether acquired by humans or animals, is a product of an uncontrolled growth of cells in a particular part of the body’s organ and it spreads throughout the entire body in an intermittent rate or speed of growth. In dogs, younger generation acquire other types of cancer such as breast cancer, and like skin cancer, the cause for abnormal growth of cells is not known. What is known, though, is that cancer may be a genetic kind of disease that may be acquired once there’s a cancer patient in a specific family; breeds of dogs mentioned above have the highest rate of skin cancer acquisition, perhaps, it has been passed on to their younger breeds.
Skin cancer may be diagnosed through biopsy, cytology, complete blood count, serum chemistry panel, urinalysis and chest radiographs. Credible animal doctors must perform these diagnostic tests. However, there’s no 100% guarantee that the diagnosis could describe the accurate prognosis and stage of skin cancer acquired by the dog. Treatment of skin cancer depends on the diagnosis’ results. Among the possible treatment procedures may be the following:

First, surgery. Surgery is recommended for removal of skin tumors. Benign and malignant tumors may be treated however since malignant tumors may be invasive, a possible recurrence may transpire on the same site of the removed skin tumor in dogs. In this kind of procedure, not only the abnormal tissues are removed but also a 1 to 1 ˝ inches layer of normal tissue margin must be removed to make sure that there’s wide excision.

Second is radiation therapy. This type of treatment is done to reduce the size of malignant skin rumor making it appear invisible. Reducing the size also meant lessening their growth rate and killing them as this treatment may be done after surgery has been performed. This type of treatment is commonly employed to treat several skin tumors.

Third is chemotherapy. Use of chemotherapy is quite limited however since it is best recommended only in cases when the abnormal cancer cells had metastasized or if there’s a high possibility of metastasizing or when other treatments are not available. Lymph sarcoma and mast cell tumors are the most common tumor types that need chemotherapy treatment. When performed in cats and dogs, high tolerance from them is expected and only low major side effects may transpire.

Fourth is cryosurgery, a kind of skin cancer treatment where liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the tumor. The result of this is death to the skin tumors that have frozen. Cryosurgery however is not frequently used for it does not take out the whole region where the cells might grow again; hence recurrence of abnormal growth after cryosurgery is performed may transpire.
Lastly, photodynamic therapy is a rather new kind of therapy treatment employed for skin tumors. This treatment involves giving of intravenous drug to the patient and then exposing the tumors to the laser light. This kind of treatment is commonly performed to treat squamous cell carcinoma on cats’ ears and nose.

Treatment of any kind that is performed must be given a follow up since a higher possibility of recurrence may transpire especially when the tumor is malignant.

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