Educational Articles

  • Primary intraocular tumors, aside from melanoma, are relatively uncommon. There are many different types of primary tumors, including ciliary body adenoma and adenocarcinomas, uveal schwannomas of blue-eyed dogs, feline post-traumatic ocular sarcomas, and iridociliary adenomas and adenocarcinomas. When an intraocular tumor is suspected, a referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist may be recommended. Diagnosis is usually via an abnormal ophthalmic examination and/or ophthalmic ultrasound. Surgery is often recommended, especially if the pet has symptoms that reduce quality of life. The risk of metastasis is related to the type of tumor.

  • There are a number of tumors that affect the eyelids, conjunctiva, and periocular tissues. These can be benign or malignant and can lead to secondary problems such as eye infections and corneal ulcerations. Diagnosis is best achieved through complete surgical excision of the tumor, but fine needle aspiration may be pursued as an initial diagnostic. Surgery is highly recommended to provide the pet with symptomatic relief, remove the tumor, and obtain a definitive diagnosis. With malignant tumors, surgery is the mainstay of therapy, though radiation therapy is sometimes pursued in cases where surgical removal is not possible.

  • Fibrosarcomas are a type of soft tissue sarcoma that is common in dogs. They are most often found on the limbs and trunk of the body, but can also be found in the nasal cavity or mouth. They usually originate from the connective tissue of the skin and beneath the skin, but occasionally from the bone, causing a primary form of bone cancer. Older dogs and certain breeds (especially large breeds) are at greater risk. The clinical signs vary in relation to the size and location of the tumor, and its impact on the surrounding tissues. Fibrosarcomas are often painful. The diagnosis is most often based on tissue biopsy. Surgery is the treatment of choice for fibrosarcomas, with or without radiation and/or chemotherapy. Most tumors recur after surgery because of the degree of local invasiveness. Only about 10% of fibrosarcomas metastasize. With proper and prompt treatment, favorable outcomes are possible.

  • Intestinal tumors are uncommon in dogs and cats. There are many kinds, including leiomyosarcomas, lymphomas, adenocarcinomas, mast cell tumors, GISTs, plasmacytomas, carcinoids, and osteosarcomas (all malignant) and leiomyomas, adenomatous polyps, and adenomas (all benign). Most intestinal tumors are malignant. Intestinal tumors are more prevalent in older animals, males, and certain breeds. The signs of intestinal tumors vary according to the area of the intestinal tract that is affected, and can include vomiting, lack of appetite, lethargy and weight loss for the upper bowel and difficulty defecating, ribbon-like stools, and rectal prolapse with the lower bowel. Sometimes tumor ulceration causes anemia. Paraneoplastic syndromes are possible with the muscle tumors. Intestinal tumors may be diagnosed with imaging, endoscopy, or surgery, with a biopsy. Treatment may involve surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.

  • Primary liver tumors in dogs and cats are rare. There are 4 types: hepatocellular tumors, bile duct tumors, neuroendocrine tumors, and sarcomas. These cancers can be massive, nodular, or diffuse in form. In dogs, most liver tumors are malignant, while in cats, most are benign. The signs of liver tumors range from being asymptomatic to having inappetence, fever, lethargy, and weight loss; and less commonly, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; increased drinking and urination; and jaundice. Occasionally there are neurological signs, such as seizures. With tumor rupture and intrabdominal bleeding there may be weakness, collapse, and difficulty breathing. The diagnosis is based on history, clinical signs, exam findings, diagnostic imaging, and FNA or liver biopsy. A biopsy is best for a definitive diagnosis. Surgery is the treatment of choice for most primary liver tumors followed by chemotherapy. Chemoembolization is a newer treatment.

  • Lung tumors are considered rare in cats and dogs. Certain breeds are more predisposed to develop pulmonary tumors than others. Not all pets with pulmonary tumors exhibit clinical signs and are often diagnosed incidentally from routine chest X-rays. Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration or biopsy will confirm the diagnosis. Pulmonary carcinomas have a high tendency to metastasize, so full staging is recommended. Surgery is by far the most common treatment, though radiation therapy may be considered if surgery is not possible.

  • Lymphatic tumors are rare in pets. Lymphangiomas are benign and lymphangiosarcomas are malignant and have a moderate-to-high metastatic potential. Patients with lymphatic tumors typically have severe edema because of lymphatic obstruction. These types of tumors occur more frequently in young dogs and cats. Treatment usually involves surgical excision and chemotherapy may be used as a follow-up treatment in the case of lymphangiosarcomas.

  • Lymphocytes are specialized cells that function as part of the body's immune system, and are key cells in the body's ability to fight and prevent infection. Lymphocytes are found in the blood and tissues throughout the body, and are in particular concentration in lymph nodes and other 'lymphoid tissue'.

  • Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are cells that are involved in the immune system. Lymphoma is connected with feline leukemia, a viral infection. Feline lymphoma most commonly affects the intestines. Therefore, clinical signs of lymphoma are often similar to other intestinal diseases. Diagnosing lymphoma requires finding cancerous cells on microscopic examination. Lymphoma cannot be prevented, but the likelihood of a cat developing lymphoma can be decreased by preventing feline leukemia virus infection.

  • Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes and lymphatic system. This cancer may be localized to one particular region, or may spread throughout the entire body. Lymphoma is a relatively common cancer, accounting for 15-20% of new cancer diagnoses in dogs. The prognosis for lymphoma varies, depending on various characteristics that can only be determined by specialized testing.

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