Your dog developing a mast cell tumour may be common, but it is crucial to determine whether the tumour is benign or malignant. However, it is scary to note that mast cell tumours are common skin cancers in dogs, though they are curable with the right therapy. These tumours form as primary tumours in the skin, and mast cell tumour removal dogs is essential to ensure they lead a normal, healthy life.

What is a Mast Cell Tumour?

Mast Cell Tumour, or MCT, is the most common skin tumour in dogs, and a sizeable percentage of canines in Australia have this affliction. According to a study published by the University of Adelaide, with variability in biological behaviour being standard, accurate MCT behaviour prediction is essential for its management.

MCT is formed by malignantly transformed mast cells, and the breeds most prone to this condition include Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Boston Terriers, and Pugs. Of these, pugs can be affected with multiple MCTs, though not all malignant.

Dog’s Ears clean

History and Physical Examination

History and physical examination are crucial to arrive at a correct prognosis, which will depend on the recent, rapid growth of the tumour, besides the formation and growth of ulcerated tumours. Post-MCT excision, there’s a fair chance for doubling the survival percentage at 30 weeks for slow-growing tumours, as against rapidly growing tumours. The physical manifestations of aggressive behaviour include overgrowing and getting fixed deep inside the tissue. Sometimes, the tumour location is determined by biological behaviour.

Tumour Grades – I, II, & III

After the mast cell tumour is removed, it is sent to a pathologist who conducts a biopsy. The pathologist studies the tissue and makes several assessments, including how abnormal the mast cell tumour appears and how much the cell has advanced into normal tissue.

The number of cells dividing and how the centre of the nucleus appears is assessed before the pathologist can grade the tumour – I, II, or III. The more the abnormality, the higher the tumour grade is rated. When dealing with malignancy, high is always a bad sign and calls for intense therapy.

Speaking of mast cell tumours, high usually means an unfavourable prognosis. Hence, the moment you notice a lump in your dog’s skin, take it to a veterinarian right away. Only a test will determine if the lump is a benign growth or a malignancy that needs to be removed, with no other option but therapy, depending on the grade.

While 83% of the dogs diagnosed with grade I survived for 1500 days post-diagnosis, 44% with grade II survived for the same period. However, only 6% of the dogs with grade III survived for the same period.

The Treatment Options

Treatment options for mast cell tumour removal in dogs include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Most vets believe in using a combination of all three methods of treatment. Surgery is the primary mode of treatment for most MCTs.

Large, poorly differentiated tumours indicate complicated surgical procedures, and excessive bleeding during surgery, tissue swelling, and hypotension are complications to look out for by vets carrying out the procedure. When a histamine blocker is administered before surgery, it helps reduce mast cell degranulation.

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The vet has to monitor the dog’s blood pressure throughout the surgical procedure as histamine often results in hypotension. There may also be post-surgery complications like the incision bursting open despite the sutures, the wound taking a long time to heal, and secondary haemorrhaging.

Radiation therapy is recommended for incompletely excised tumours and is suggested as a long-term treatment to control tumour’s recurrence. For microscopic MCTs, radiation therapy is the most effective method of treatment available. However, as radiation therapy is restricted to a specific area, it does not rule out tumour metastasis or tumour formation in another body location.

Summing it Up

As with all cases of malignancy, early detection and treatment are essential for a speedy recovery. Hence, pet owners should not ignore any lumps or suspicious growths and have them examined by a vet immediately.