Cancer can strike any person at any time. Cancer does not discriminate based on gender, age or nationality, nor are pets immune to this potentially deadly disease.
The American Veterinary Medical Association says approximately one in four dogs will, at some stage in their lives, develop neoplasia, which is the uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells or tissues in the body. A neoplasm can be benign or malignant. Almost half of all dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer. Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans. There is less information about the rate of cancer in cats.
Just like humans, pets can exhibit different signs that indicate cancer may be present, according to the Blue Buffalo Pet Cancer Awareness group. These include:
Swollen lymph nodes ymph nodes are located throughout the body, and enlarged lymph nodes may indicate the presence of lymphoma.
Enlarged or changing lump ny lumps on the body that grow or change in shape or texture should be investigated.
Distention in the abdomen hen the stomach becomes rapidly enlarged, this may indicate the presence of a mass or tumor in the abdomen.
Weight loss hronic unexplained weight loss can be indicative of cancer or some other illness and should be taken seriously.
Unexplained bleeding leeding from any part of the body that was not traumatized should be addressed with the vet.
Other potential signs of illness include oral odor, lameness, blood in urine, and a non-productive cough.
Pet owners should discuss possible treatment plans if their pets are diagnosed with cancer. According to PetCure Oncology, in the past a cancer diagnosis may have left pet owners with little hope. However, research is now ongoing and there are new treatments that can improve quality of life and reduce the number of treatment sessions.
The company says stereotactic radiation, or SRS/SRT, is an advanced form of radiation therapy. Compared to traditional radiation therapy, SRS/SRT is delivered with extreme precision and may be used for some forms of cancer considered untreatable due to sensitive locations in the body.
This may be one part of a cancer treatment plan for companion animals. Other cancers may be treated with surgery or medications.
Pet owners can discuss their options with their veterinarians. Cancer treatment in pets, much like humans, is based on the type of cancer, how large tumors are and if the cancer has spread, advises AVMA.
With support and treatment, it may be possible to prolong the life of companion animals that have been diagnosed with cancer. (MC)