Facts About Canine Cancer

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November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month in the United States, so throughout the month I thought I’d make a number of posts about dog cancer and cancer treatment for dogs.

The articles will cover dog cancer facts; symptoms of cancer; diagnosing canine cancer; common cancers, their treatment and prognosis; home care; precautions you can take every day to reduce the risks of cancer; and a resource list where you can find more information.

The aim of the articles will be to inform rather than provide medical advice so, as always, if you have any concerns about the health of your dog seek advice from your vet as soon as you can.


Here are some dog cancer facts:

  • Dogs get cancer at the roughly the same rate as humans.
  • Approximately 1 in 4 dogs will develop a tumor of some kind during his lifetime.
  • Over half the dogs currently aged over 10 years old will die of cancer.
  • Fifteen years ago there was virtually no pet oncology; now the level of dog cancer treatment is similar to human oncology.
  • Available surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment is successful in treating many canine cancers.
  • Early detection and effective treatment is essential to give your dog the best possible prognoses.
  • Cancer treatment is expensive; seriously consider starting a pet insurance policy whilst your dog is healthy.
  • On 10 August this year, an initiative was launched by the Morris Animal Foundation to eliminate cancer in the canine population in 20 years.

Cancer is a generic term referring to any disease in which cells in the body divide uncontrollably – these abnormal cells reproduce at a rapid rate and can form into a tumor.

[click here for a good explanation on how a tumor can develop from a normal body cell. Source: Colorado State University Animal Cancer Center web site].

Cancer can occur in virtually any part of your dog’s body – for example the skin, gastrointestinal tract (stomach, bowels), kidney, bladder, blood, nervous system and bones.

In addition, different types of tumors can grow in each location of the cancer . A cellular diagnosis will determine the type of tumor that your dog has.

For each type of tumor specific terminology is used to describe where the tumor originated and whether it is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) – as tumors can develop from any normal tissue type, there are a significant number of different tumor types.

Each type of cancer is its own disease and will have its own treatment and prognosis .

When you hear people talking about cancer they often use the words tumor and cancer interchangeably, but technically they mean completely different things:

  • A tumor is a swelling which may or may not be a cancer; and
  • Cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth which can be benign (not invasive and does not spread) or malignant (usually invasive into surrounding tissue and capable of spreading to other areas of the body).

In the next article I’ll highlight the symptoms your dog might show if he has cancer, and how cancer is diagnosed.

[tags]canine cancer, dog cancer facts[/tags]

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Comments

  1. does anyone know of a fund for dogs with cancer my beloved dog buddy has cancer we got the news 2 days ago the vet has him on steriods and a type of antibiotic thing is im loosing my house due to severe money problems i am disabled and has of lately ive found no help so if anyone knows of a way to get help please i beg you please let us know

  2. Theresa, I’m so sorry to hear about Buddy. Here’s a link to a list of organizations that might be able to help you.

    Financial help

    Good luck.

  3. Shep and Clare says:

    We have an unfortunate and sad situation. My wife and I are unable to conceive and have treated our 4 1/2 year old black lab like the son we never had. He is an extraordinary sweet, loving, loyal and intelligent dog named Riley that has been cruelly struck with a life threatening meningioma. He is currently on day 4 of his radiation treatments as the location is at the cerebropontine angle and is surgically unresectable. He has been experiencing progressive left sided weakness and a head bob (similar to oscillopsia in humans) that we can not figure out. He receives daily steroids (30mg BID) but this does not seem to improve his case.

    Does anyone have any advice? We love this dog with all our hearts and want to improve his quality of life, and right now we are terrified that we are only worsening things and hastening the end. We are both medical professionals and are struggling with this decision. Any advice would be appreciated.

  4. One of the best resource sites I have found is http://www.helpyourdogfightcancer.com – not only does it have lots of links to oncologists and vet schools etc. where you might be able to get further help/advice but it helps you come to terms with your dog having cancer

    My heart goes out to you – Riley is obviously the love of your lives and to see him in such pain, and unable to do anything about it, must be so awful.

    I hope you manage to find the help you’re looking for, and all the best to Riley.

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