SPCA spokeswoman Donna Young with all the dogs she takes care of daily in 2021. 21060116
Our pets suffer from many of the same cancers we get. Mammary tumours (breast cancer) is very common in female dogs, less so in cats but it tends to be severe (malignant) when cats do get it, writes Dr Michael Baer of Te Are Manu Veterinary Clinic.
Cancer, there are
lots of types. Some are serious, life threatening and fatal. Some are simple,
and don’t cause any harm. Some spread throughout the body, some invade the
local area, others just sit and slowly grow. There is one for every organ in
the body, often more than one. Cancer is the catchall name, but every type is a
cancers are classified by the cell line they are from – sarcoma, carcinoma for
example – and by the organ they appear in – mammary, lung, skin, blood. And by
the degree of invasion, rate of growth or rate of spread and by the degree of
cell abnormality in the cancer. Confused? It is quite a lot to understand. And
then there is the vocabulary, a whole series of new, big words, which, to the
scientists, describe the cancer.
Our pets suffer
from many of the same cancers we get. Mammary tumours (breast cancer) is very
common in female dogs, less so in cats but it tends to be severe (malignant)
when cats do get it. Desexing is the best prevention, it is very uncommon in
dogs which have been desexed (another great reason to get this done). Prostate
and testicular cancer are also common in entire dogs, once again desexing is
the answer. So make sure you give the clinic a ring, or get to a desexing day!
Cats with pink
ears and noses often get skin cancer, and these cancers can eat away the entire
nose if not removed when they are small. Melanomas are very common in grey
horses, but it is usually benign. We see them in dogs, cats, and cattle
(leukaemia, lymphoma) are quite common. There is a virus in cats that can cause
it. And a virus in cattle that can do the same. Bone cancer tends to be
aggressive in dogs, often it has spread (metastasised) to the lungs before we
see any signs of it.
Cancerous fat is
probably the most common form we see. Called lipomas, these little lumps of
cancerous fat cells often sit just under the skin. Fortunately, they are almost
always harmless (benign).
commonly get little growths on their skin, called histiocytomas. Theses tumours disappear if left alone.
leukaemia are cancers of blood cells. Myeloma is bone marrow cancer. Bone
marrow is where blood cells are made. Haemangioma and haemangiosarcoma are
cancers of the blood vessels. Haemangiomas are benign, haemangiosarcomas are
So, when we say a
dog has cancer, we are scratching the surface. The progression of disease and
our approach to treating it, be it with drugs or surgery, depends on what type
of cancer, where it is, whether it is spreading, whether it is invasive. Just
like the terms that describe them, all cancers are similar, but none are the