Strategies for detecting and preventing pet cancer

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 1 in 5 cats and 1 in 4 dogs will develop a tumor at some point in their lives, with an estimated half of all dogs over the age of 10 developing cancer. can create a form of

Because cancer symptoms can be subtle or overlooked and symptoms can vary widely, early detection can be difficult, sometimes leaving pets without a diagnosis or medical care.

In recognition of World Cancer Day, February 4, which provides an opportunity for many to raise awareness about cancer prevention, detection and treatment, Dr. Vanna Dickerson, Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine Assistant Professor of Soft Tissue Surgery in Medicine. Biomedical Sciences, offers insight into how owners can take action against pet cancer.

Stay informed

One way owners can help detect and prevent the spread of cancer is by becoming familiar with common pet cancers and associated symptoms, potential warning signs are easy to spot.

“Some of the most common cancers diagnosed in dogs include osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer; mammary tumors; skin tumors such as mast cell tumors or soft tissue sarcomas; and lymphoma, a cancer that forms in the lymphatic system. ,” Dickerson said. “In cats, common cancers include mammary tumors, lymphoma, and squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.”

Dickerson encourages owners to focus on knowing the symptoms associated with different forms of cancer, as risk factors are less reliable as an early detection method.

“Although there are certain cancers that certain breeds develop more frequently, for most of the cancers we see in veterinary medicine, specific risk factors have not been definitively established,” Dickerson explained. . “However, pet owners can research their pet’s breed to better understand what symptoms they need to watch for more closely in their pet, as the associated symptoms can range from a lump to It can be felt on or under the skin, leading to limping or difficulty breathing.”

Close relationships with veterinarians

Building a strong relationship with a veterinarian is important for a pet’s overall health and becomes even more important for cancer prevention. In fact, regular veterinary checkups can help veterinarians catch cancer in its early stages.

“Routine visits allow many diseases to be caught earlier in the process, potentially making treatment easier and more effective,” Dickerson said. “For example, masses that are caught when they are very small can often be treated with much smaller surgery than those that are caught before they are very large. In other cases of cancer, A routine veterinary visit means the disease is caught before it spreads to other parts of the body.”

Regular checkups also allow veterinarians to recognize symptoms that may otherwise go unnoticed by pet owners, ensuring a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

“The physical examination is one of the most important aspects of diagnosing cancer as veterinarians look for lumps in or under the skin, enlarged lymph nodes, abnormal lung sounds, or abnormally enlarged organs within the abdomen. will recognize,” Dickerson said. “Imaging with X-rays, ultrasound, or computed tomography (CT scan) can determine if the cancer is affecting more than one organ in the body or if there are abnormalities that the pet may have. may alter the treatment plan, such as underlying kidney or liver disease.”

Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of treatments, but Dickerson points out that the treatment used depends on the pet’s overall health, the type of cancer, the affected areas and the owner’s preferences. depending on.

“In veterinary medicine, we strive to strike a balance between treating cancer to the best of our ability and maintaining a good quality of life for our beloved companions,” Dickerson said. “I encourage owners to discuss all options in detail with the oncology team before deciding on the best plan for their pet. We always want the best for both your pet and your family. Make a decision and help you in any way we can.

By being informed about pet cancer and building a strong relationship with their veterinarian, owners can take meaningful steps in early cancer diagnosis, ensuring that their beloved companions remain happy and healthy. Get the best care for

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Pet Talk is a service of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be found on the web. Suggestions for future topics can be sent to

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