Cancer in Pets – The Signs of Neoplasia and How We Get A Diagnosis (Pt. 2)

Like people, pets can develop neoplasia affecting almost any organ or tissue in their body. The signs and symptoms that you may observe vary based on the tissue or organ involved and the severity of the tumor.

Call our office if you observe any of the following signs in your pet:

  • Abdominal swelling or bloating
  • Bleeding from the mouth, nose, or other body openings
  • Difficulty breathing or even mildly labored breathing
  • Difficulty with the mechanics of eating / loss of appetite
  • Lumps, bumps, or discolored skin
  • Non-healing wounds
  • Persistent diarrhea or vomiting
  • Sudden changes in weight
  • Unexplained limb swelling, heat, pain, tenderness, or lameness
  • Visible mass or growth

Many of these signs seen with neoplasia are also seen with non-cancerous conditions, but they will need prompt attention by our Veterinarians to determine the cause.

Neoplasia is often suspected on the basis of the pet’s medical history and physical exam. Additional tests, such as radiographs (xrays), blood tests, ultrasound exams, or even a CT scan or MRI are sometimes necessary to get a firm diagnosis of neoplasia and determine if it has spread in the body.

For many of the tumors we see and feel everyday, fine needle aspirations and cytology performed while you are in the office can quickly help to rule in or rule out cancer and provide basic information about the tumor type. Cytology involves withdrawing some cells from a mass using a fine needle then staining and examining the cells under the microscope. While we are not specialists in this field, our Veterinarians have the training to often determine if surgical excision of the tumor is indicated, or whether the slides need to be sent to a Cytologist, or even if a biopsy (piece of the mass) needs to be collected for Pathology at the lab. While Dr. Wiles is a member of the Veterinary Cancer Society and has a special interest in the field, some pets do need to be referred to our local Veterinary Oncologists (cancer specialists) and Radiation Oncologists at Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialists who have advanced residency and fellowship training and are board certified in cancer medicine. These specialists can best diagnose certain cancers, lay out all the options for treatment, and then provide those treatments.

The discussion of how cancer is treated in pets next week will conclude our series on Cancer in Pets.

Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic is a state-of-the-art, full-service suburban veterinary facility serving the Pittsburgh Area since 1980.. We offer diagnostic, medical, surgical, and dental care to dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and pocket pets in the Pittsburgh area.

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