Basal Cell Carcinoma in Dogs

Basal cell carcinoma is a form of cancer which affects the dog’s skin. Basal cells are cutaneous epithelial cells located in the deep layer of the skin, which is also known as the epidermis. Generally, basal cells tumors are benign but they can also be malignant. The term carcinoma only refers to malignant tumors. Basal cell carcinoma is more common in older dogs and dogs that are ore exposed to sun.

Basal Cell Carcinoma in Dogs

Basal cell carcinoma is a type of cancer that affects the dog’s skin. Carcinomas are formed when cells start growing and multiplying chaotically causing malignant tumors. Basal cell carcinoma is caused by the malignancy of epithelial cells located in the deep epidermal layer of the skin. Basal cells carcinoma tends to invade the surrounding tissue and to metastasize in other organs.

Basal cell carcinomas generally occur in middle-age and old dogs. The condition is more common in dogs that stay in the sun for extended periods of time. There are also some breeds which are more prone to this type of cancer: Saint Bernard, Cocker spaniels, Scottish Terriers, poodles and Norwegian Elkhounds.

The Appearance of Basal Cell Carcinoma in Dogs

Basal cell carcinoma manifests through hairless growths on the dog’s skin. They are usually firm and well-circumscribed nodules and can ulcerate. The tumors can vary considerably in size, having between 1 cm and 10 cm in diameter.

Basal cell carcinomas usually appear on the dog’s neck, head and extremities. They can invade the epidermis and interfere with the blood supply in the area. The sooner the dog is diagnosed, the better the prognosis. Therefore, it is recommended that you check your dog’s skin regularly to spot any skin growths.

Diagnosis of Basal Cell Carcinoma in Dogs

In order to diagnose the tumor correctly, your veterinarian will perform a biopsy. This means that he will retrieve sample cells from the nodule. Biopsies are performed under local anesthesia, so the dog does not feel any pain. Sample cells are analyzed to determine if they are malignant or not. In some cases, the veterinarian chooses to carry out further tests: a complete blood cell count, urine analysis or biochemical profile.

Treatment of Basal Cell Carcinoma in Dogs

The best treatment for basal cell carcinomas is surgery. The veterinarian removes the carcinoma together with some surrounding tissue. This is necessary because basal cell carcinoma invades and destroys the surrounding healthy tissue as well. In most cases, the surgery can cure the cancer. The veterinarian might also recommend chemotherapy to destroy all possible malignant cells. If the tumor has metastasized to other organs, surgery will not be an effective solution and the diagnosis is poor.

Prevention of Basal Cell Carcinoma in Dogs

There are no specific measures to prevent basal cell carcinoma formation. Given that extended sun exposure is a factor that contributes to skin cancer, it should be avoided.

In order to prevent the recurrence of basal cell carcinoma, it is recommended that you take your dog to the veterinarian for follow-up on a regular basis. Check your dog’s skin regularly.