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Tumors

  • Esophageal tumors are extremely rare in dogs and cats. There are many kinds, including squamous cell carcinomas, leiomyosarcomas, fibrosarcomas, osteosarcomas, and undifferentiated sarcomas (all malignant); and leiomyomas and plasmacytomas (benign). Most tumors are malignant. These tumors occur mostly in the upper esophagus in cats and the lower esophagus in dogs. In dogs, most cases of esophageal sarcoma are associated with spirocercosis. Esophageal cancer causes progressive signs of regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, weight loss, and lack of appetite. It is diagnosed with imaging, endoscopic or surgical biopsy, and histopathology. Surgery is a treatment option, with the possibility of radiation therapy for tumors of the upper esophagus. Avermectins may be used with benign spirocercosis. Palliative care may be possible with the placement of a feeding tube.

  • Ocular melanomas in cats may be benign or malignant. Malignant tumors, called diffuse iris melanomas, present as multifocal iridial pigmentation, and benign tumors, called limbal melanomas, present as a discernable limbal mass. The diagnosis of these tumors is in large part by clinical signs and tumor appearance. Treatment for diffuse iris melanomas may include close monitoring, laser surgery, iridectomy, and enucleation. As some iris melanomas progress slowly (over years) intervention may not be required for some time. Metastasis has been reported in about 60% of cases of diffuse iris melanoma, with spread most commonly to the regional lymph nodes, kidneys, liver, and lungs, but unlike other cancers, metastatic disease may not become evident for years. Treatment for limbal melanomas may include close monitoring, and surgery (with or without grafting) sometimes combined with cryosurgery, laser surgery, or radiation therapy. Enucleation is an option if the treatment is unsuccessful or the tumor regrows. Histopathology is always recommended for a definitive diagnosis.

  • Ocular melanomas, although rare, are the most common eye tumor in dogs. Ocular melanomas can originate from the uvea or the limbus. About 80% of uveal melanomas (and all limbal melanomas) are benign. The rate of metastasis is less than 5%. Ocular melanomas are at least in part heritable and caused by one or more genetic mutations. Uveal melanomas can become discrete, raised pigmented masses that damage the intraocular structures of the eye and cause hyphema, uveitis, and glaucoma. Limbal melanomas can invade the cornea and cause keratitis, grow outwards and cause conjunctivitis, and penetrate and damage the eye as with uveal tumors. Treatment for ocular melanomas may include close monitoring, surgery, iridectomy, laser surgery, cryotherapy, radiation therapy, and enucleation, depending on the type and size of the tumor and how it is affecting the eye. All tissues removed should be sent for histopathology for a definitive diagnosis. The overall prognosis is good.

  • Primary intraocular tumors, aside from melanoma, are relatively uncommon. There are many different types of primary tumors, including ciliary body adenoma and adenocarcinomas, uveal schwannomas of blue-eyed dogs, feline post-traumatic ocular sarcomas, and iridociliary adenomas and adenocarcinomas. When an intraocular tumor is suspected, a referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist may be recommended. Diagnosis is usually via an abnormal ophthalmic examination and/or ophthalmic ultrasound. Surgery is often recommended, especially if the pet has symptoms that reduce quality of life. The risk of metastasis is related to the type of tumor.

  • There are a number of tumors that affect the eyelids, conjunctiva, and periocular tissues. These can be benign or malignant and can lead to secondary problems such as eye infections and corneal ulcerations. Diagnosis is best achieved through complete surgical excision of the tumor, but fine needle aspiration may be pursued as an initial diagnostic. Surgery is highly recommended to provide the pet with symptomatic relief, remove the tumor, and obtain a definitive diagnosis. With malignant tumors, surgery is the mainstay of therapy, though radiation therapy is sometimes pursued in cases where surgical removal is not possible.

  • Mast cell tumors are one of the most common skin tumors in ferrets. These tumors are typically a small, raised growth on the skin that erupts, may bleed, then heal only to reoccur several weeks later in the same location. Unlike mast cell tumors in dogs, mast cell tumors in ferrets do not spread to internal organs.

  • Fibrosarcomas are a type of soft tissue sarcoma that is common in dogs. They are most often found on the limbs and trunk of the body, but can also be found in the nasal cavity or mouth. They usually originate from the connective tissue of the skin and beneath the skin, but occasionally from the bone, causing a primary form of bone cancer. Older dogs and certain breeds (especially large breeds) are at greater risk. The clinical signs vary in relation to the size and location of the tumor, and its impact on the surrounding tissues. Fibrosarcomas are often painful. The diagnosis is most often based on tissue biopsy. Surgery is the treatment of choice for fibrosarcomas, with or without radiation and/or chemotherapy. Most tumors recur after surgery because of the degree of local invasiveness. Only about 10% of fibrosarcomas metastasize. With proper and prompt treatment, favorable outcomes are possible.

  • Hepatoid gland tumors are a type of cancer that develop from the sebaceous (sweat) glands of the skin. The most common location for these tumors to develop is the perianal area, and the most common tumor is the perianal adenoma. Perianal adenocarcinomas, and rarely perianal epitheliomas may also occur. These tumors appear as one or more small, round, pink, hairless, slow-growing nodules around the anus, and can sometimes ulcerate and become infected. Malignant tumors can grow much bigger and faster, invade the underlying tissue, and metastasize. Diagnosis may be made by fine needle aspiration, biopsy, or full excision of the tumor. Staging is recommended for adenocarcinomas. Treatment may involve surgical removal along with neutering, cryotherapy, laser ablation, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and occasionally hormone therapy. The prognosis is good with perianal adenomas, fair to poor with adenocarcinomas, and generally good with epitheliomas.

  • There are four major hormonal diseases in ferrets. This handout covers adrenal gland disease and diabetes mellitus. Adrenal gland disease occurs in a large number of ferrets in North America, while diabetes mellitus is a rare, but important problem.

  • Infertility in a female dog is defined as the inability to conceive and deliver viable puppies, even when mated multiple times with a known fertile male surrounding the time of ovulation. This handout outlines the varying causes of infertility in female dogs and how they may be diagnosed and treated.