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Dog Mouth Cancer - Diagnosis And Prognosis For Mouth Cancer In Dogs

by Ginny Carroll
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Dog mouth cancer accounts for up to 7 percent of malignant tumors in dogs. The three most common types of cancers that are found in a dog's mouth are the melanoma, the squamous cell carcinoma and the fibrosarcoma.

Small tumors in the mouth tend not to cause any symptoms, and they may only be discovered when your dog is examined by your vet for another reason. As they grow larger, they become obvious when your dog opens their mouth, and start to cause problems. Your dog may be off their food, or they may want to eat but can't seem to manage it. They may have bad breath, increased salivation or even bleeding from the mouth. Depending on the site of the tumor, they may have wobbly teeth, or their teeth may fall out.


The most important part of diagnosing dog mouth cancer is identifying exactly what type of tumor your dog has. This will give you more information about the best treatment option, and the likely outcome for your dog. This is done by taking a biopsy of the tumor, and sending it to a laboratory for examination.

At the same time as the biopsy is taken, a sample of cells can be taken from the lymph nodes under the jaw and also sent for analysis. This will tell you if the cancer has started to spread beyond the oral cavity. Further tests, including blood tests, x-rays of your dog's chest and ultrasound of their abdomen, can also give information about the extent of their disease. Your dog's skull and teeth should also be x-rayed to see if the bone has been affected by cancer.


The outcome for those with dog mouth cancer varies.

Melanomas have a poor prognosis. These tumors are aggressive, and quickly spread throughout the body.

Squamous cell carcinomas become quite large and invasive, but they rarely spread elsewhere. The one exception is squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsils. Dogs with this type of cancer usually have malignant cells in nearby lymph nodes when their disease is first diagnosed, and the prognosis isn't as good.

Fibrosarcomas are most commonly found in the upper jaw, but can also occur in the lower jaw. These tumors grow locally but tend not to affect other parts of the body.

As with other types of cancer, the best outcomes from treatment of dog mouth cancer are achieved when the disease is diagnosed early. Look inside your dog's mouth regularly, and if you notice any lumps or swelling, have them treated straight away.

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Ginny Carroll
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