Canine Bladder Cancer Surgery

Canine bladder cancer is a fatal carcinoma that occurs on the inner surface of the bladder or in the urethra. Bladder cancer impairs the immune system of the dog and makes him more prone to urinary tract infections. It also impairs the flow of urine and complete obstruction of this flow of urine results in a buildup of urea in the body.

This can lead to other life threatening complications. The most common type of bladder cancer that affects dogs is termed as transitional cell carcinoma (TCC). This cancer affects the transitional epithelial tissue that covers the bladder.

Symptoms of Canine Bladder Cancer:

  • Difficulty in urination
  • Difficulty defecating
  • Increased frequency of urination with only small amounts of urine excreted
  • Bloody urine and feces
  • Incontinence
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Recurring urinary tract infections
  • Difficulty breathing  
  • Coughing

Causes of Canine Bladder Cancer

The chemicals excreted in the urine can cause the cells of the bladder and urethra to become cancerous. Many breeds of dogs such as the Scottish terrier, the Shetland sheepdog, beagles Airedales terriers and wirehaired fox terriers are genetically prone to this type of cancer. Research indicates that female dogs are more prone to the cancer than male dogs. Similarly, neutered dogs are at risk of suffering from this condition. Obesity is another contributing factor.

Insecticides, mosquito sprays, and dips for fleas and ticks can trigger off the cancer in dogs. Certain medications like cyclophosphamide can also increase the pet’s chances of developing bladder cancer.

Diagnosis of Canine Bladder Cancer

It’s difficult to diagnose this form of cancer in the early stages as the symptoms are similar to those of other diseases. This causes a delay in the administration of treatment. By the time the cancer is detected, it has invariably metastasized to the lymph nodes or the pelvis. The vet will perform a physical examination, understand the dog’s medical history and perform tests like a complete blood cell count test, a cytological examination of the urine, an abdominal X-ray and an ultrasound to diagnose bladder cancer and confirm its severity.

Surgery as a Treatment Option

Treatment depends on the level of metastasis of the cancer and the age of the dog. The usual forms of treatment are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Surgery is an option if the cancerous mass is small, localized and located in an accessible area. As many transitional cell carcinomas are found in the neck of the bladder, they are inoperable. This is because there are several vital structures located in the neck of the bladder such as the urethral sphincter, the junction of the ureters and urethra.

If the tumor is localized, partial removal of the tumor is carried out, although it’s not a feasible option if the cancer has metastasized. Since metastasis causes lesions, it may not always be possible to completely remove the tumor.

The prognosis for canine bladder cancer is poor and depending on the location of the cancer and whether it has metastasized, the life expectancy varies from a month to a year. However, surgery and other treatment options can improve the quality of life of your pet while he is still alive.