Canine Oral Melanoma Diagnosis

The oral melanoma may occur in dogs, especially in senior or dark skinned dogs. The oral melanomas may be detected as an asymmetrical tumor that will develop at a fast rate. The diagnosis of canine oral melanoma may be done judging by a few symptoms and may be confirmed by performing a biopsy.

Symptoms of Canine Oral Melanoma

The oral melanoma will occur in the dog’s oral cavity as an oddly shaped tumor. The tumor may have the color of the skin but may also have a different color. The melanomas are made up of cells such as the melanocytes or melanoblasts. The melanomas may be benign or malignant; however, over 85% of the melanomas found in the canine cavity are malignant.

Other signs of oral melanoma will include:

  • Skin lesions
  • Difficulties when swallowing
  • Refusal to eat due to pain when swallowing
  • Weight loss
  • Halitosis or bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Depression

Diagnosing Oral Melanoma

If you notice any of the above symptoms, you should consult the vet. The vet will perform a few tests to determine if the melanoma is benign or malignant.

The typical tests for melanomas include a complete blood work, x-rays and a biopsy. The biopsy will give the vet a clear diagnosis, as he will be able to establish if the cells are cancerous or not. The biopsy is performed by taking a sample of the tumor and analyzing it under the microscope.

If the tumor is malignant, the vet needs to determine the stage of the cancer and whether other organs have been affected, so he may perform additional x-rays or ultrasounds.

Treatment of Oral Melanoma in Dogs

If the oral melanoma is benign, the dog doesn’t require treatment. The vet may recommend surgery, if the melanoma causes swallowing difficulties in the pet.

Malignant oral melanomas in dogs will spread at an alarming rate and may affect the throat and other areas of the dog’s body. Typically, the oral cancer will metastasize in the dog’s lungs.

The treatment for malignant oral melanomas will include chemotherapy, which will be administered through medication that should stop the development of the cancerous cells. If possible, the vet will remove the tumor, but there are chances that the tumor will grow back. If the surgery is not possible, the vet will recommend a radiation therapy that will reduce the size of the tumor and will also manage the dog’s pain.

Canine Oral Melanoma Prognosis

In case of benign melanomas that are located in the oral cavity, the prognosis is favorable. The tumor may be removed or left intact; it will typically not grow and the dog can live with it.

If the melanoma is malignant, the prognosis will depend on the stage at which the cancer is detected. An early detection may allow a surgery and the removal of the tumor, which may not grow back. However, if the cancer is more advanced and has affected other organs, the prognosis is poor and the dog will eventually die. Meanwhile, he should get support therapy.