Common Dog Oral Tumors

Oral tumors are growths or lumps that develop in the pet's mouth and oral cavity. Although all tumors are tested for cancer, every tumor isn't malignant. Oral cancer is not as common as other forms or types of cancers seen in dogs. Benign tumors are those that don't spread to different parts of the body. They can also be easily removed with surgery. Epulids are the most commonly occurring benign tumors in dogs. There are several types of malignant oral tumors that also develop in dogs. However certain types are more common than others.

Common Dog Oral Tumors

  • Malignant melanoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Fibrosarcoma

Malignant Melanoma in Dogs

This type of tumor develops due to abnormal cell division of melanocytes. This cancer is seen in older pets and some tumors may have distinct pigments on the surface. Dogs suffering from malignant melanoma in the oral cavity exhibit symptoms that include bad breath, oral bleeding and pain during ingestion of food. Malignant melanoma is known to spread to different parts of the body, particularly the lungs.

The vet will perform a complete blood cell count test to determine the amount of white and red blood cells present. Urine analysis and fine needle aspirate testing is necessary to confirm diagnosis. In order to prevent discomfort or pain, oral tumors may be surgically removed and then tested for malignancy. The vet may also have to remove certain parts of the jaw to completely eliminate cancer cells.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Dogs

Squamous cell carcinoma develops as a mass or growth on the skin. Although squamous cell carcinomas are localized in nature, they often spread to the adjoining tissues or bones at a later stage. The vet will perform a complete oral x-ray to determine the extent of malignancy and detect bone damage present. In order to obtain a definite diagnosis, the vet will have to surgically remove a part of the tumor. If the cancer has spread to the bone and adjoining tissues, complete surgical removal of the tumor may not be possible. Additional treatment is necessary to prevent disease progression.

Fibrosarcoma in Dogs

Although fibrosarcoma isn't as common as malignant melanoma in dogs, the cancer develops as red growth or ulcers. Fibrosarcoma may not spread quickly to other parts of the body. However it has to be treated with chemotherapy medication or combination therapy.

Other Oral Tumors in Dogs

  • Acanthomatous ameloblastoma
  • Multilobular osteochondrosarcoma
  • Lymphoma
  • Myxosarcoma

Diagnosis of Tumors in Dogs

The vet will perform a fine needle aspirate test to obtain a few samples of the tumors and send it for laboratory analysis. This helps determine the type and grade of cancer present. Biopsies performed after surgical removal of the tumor will also determine treatment options and the severity of treatment protocol.

Treatment of Oral Tumors

Oral tumors that are removed surgically are treated with chemotherapy medication and radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses photons that penetrate the nucleus of cancerous cells to destroy or shrink them. Combination therapy is a treatment that includes both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Common chemotherapy drugs include cisplatin and carboplatin.

Pet owners should discuss with the vet, treatment options suited to individual dogs. Pet suffering from cancer require frequent follow up vet checks and tests. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy reduce the pain and discomfort caused due to cancer and improve the dog's quality of life.