Pet Cancer Awareness: The Facts
As May continues on, we want to put some focus on pet cancer as it just happens to be Pet Cancer Awareness month! With an estimated 6 million new cancer diagnoses in dogs each year and a similar number in cats, multiple organizations have dedicated their mission to raise funds for cancer research, as it's the #1 cause of death of pets. All dogs and cats are at risk of cancer, no matter their breed, sex, or genetic history. And it's estimated that 50% of dogs over the age of 10 are diagnosed with cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the most common cancers found in dogs are:
Osteosarcoma (85%-98% of all primary bone tumors in dogs) – similar to childhood and adolescent osteosarcoma)
Lymphoma (similar to non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in children)
Mast Cell tumors (mutations similar to human GISTS – gastrointestinal stromal tumors and Small cell lung cancers)
Hemangiosarcoma (similar to human angiosarcoma)
Histiocytic Sarcoma (a rare disease in people)
Primary Lung Cancer (1% of all tumors)
The most common cancers found in felines are:
Infection with feline leukemia virus (FeLV) for which a vaccine is now developed.
FeLV can increase the risk for lymphosarcoma
Squamous cell carcinoma
Many people don't realize that something is wrong with their pet until it's too late since pets can't always express their discomfort or pain. This leads to the discovery of cancer in its late stages, past any chances of remission. You are the only person who can catch those first signs of cancer by knowing the signs and symptoms of when to take your pet to the vet. Here are some common signs and symptoms from Pet Cancer Awareness:
Swollen Lymph Nodes
An Enlarging or Changing Lump
Chronic Weight Loss
Chronic Vomiting or Diarrhea
Straining to Urinate
When it comes to treatment, the options are nearly identical to cancer treatment in humans. The three most common methods are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Certain treatments are specific to the type of cancer. For example, a leg might be amputated in the case of bone cancer. There are even clinical trials for pets! But in the end, treating cancer ends up being a very expensive thing to take on and your pet's quality of life should also be taken into consideration before treatment. Your vet or oncologist should be able to help you determine the quality of life and what route should be taken.
If you suspect that your pet has cancer, take them to your trusted veterinarian. We are not a licesned veterinarian and all medical concerns should be addressed by one.