Melanoma in dogs and cats

Melanoma in dogs and cats 

04 of February is the World Day to Combat Cancer . The disease also affects dogs and cats, and among the biggest problems is the melanoma . Melanoma is not a common subject, so the owners of dogs and cats need the greatest amount of information possible. When looking for a specific service for your pet, you find professionals who know what they are talking about and using proven studies to treat patients.

To clarify the main doubts, Dr. Alex Lafarti Veterinary Hospital Pet Care explains more about this disease. Follow:

01 – This skin problem has a high incidence among patients treated at the Pet Care? Increased in recent years?

Melanoma is a relatively common cancer of dogs, especially those with enough pigmentation in the skin, in cats is rare. It is a tumor of melanocytes (cells that produce the pigment melanin), and these cells are located in different regions of the body, the skin primarily, but also the oral cavity, interdigital, the nail bed (nail), the cushions (footpads) , eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract mucus joints. It is the most common malignancy in the oral cavity of dogs.

The incidence of tumors, in general, has increased due, in fact, a better diagnosis. People have been more concerned with their dogs and take them to the vet earlier. They also over the lifetime of our pets, dogs and cats, because of the good features of good nutrition and health care and advances in diagnostic technologies, live longer and hence degenerative diseases such as cancer, resulting from this longevity, begin to be identified.

02 – What factors lead the animals to present this kind of disease?

In humans, melanoma increases due to a genetic mutation induced by repeated exposure and intense ultraviolet rays and tumors is one of the fastest growing incidence. Dogs, however, have a layer of hair that protects against the sun’s rays, so it is less likely that this is the cause of melanoma in this species. The dog’s skin, melanoma is more common in regions covered with hair. Recent studies have shown that the immune system, changes in oncogenes (those that accelerate tumor growth) and tumor suppressor genes (which should contain the growth), are the determining factors in the development. Injury and constant trauma to the skin and mucous membranes, increasing the turnover (cell multiplication) may be risk factors for melanoma development.

03 – There are races / species and more prone ages?

The races are more likely Scottish Terrier, Schnauzer, Golden retriever, Poodle, Dachshund and boxers, most frequently in older animals from 9 years to 13 years, but it can also be seen in younger animals.

04 – How is the appearance of a melanoma? It is similar to other skin diseases? Which are? How can you differentiate it?

Melanoma it is usually a pigmented lesion (dark), and may have various shapes, nodules, tumors, plaque, stains and ulcerated lesions, have fast, diffuse and invasive growth depending on its location. More aggressive lesions with poor prognosis are located in the oral cavity and the digits. Melanocytomas, a benign melanocytic lesion, may have the same appearance as a melanoma. The cytology and / or biopsy (histopathology) help in the diagnosis and differentiation.

05 – What are the tests detect the presence of a melanoma?

A good physical examination and location of the lesion raise suspicion of melanoma existence; The cytology as a screening test and after complete histopathological diagnosis; Rx and CT abdominal US aid in disease staging.

06 – There are several types and degrees of the disease? Which are they?

The stage and grade of the disease are directly related to the location. As I talked, for example, dogs with melanoma in the digit, without compromising the regional lymph node and no distant metastases, treated surgically with amputation and free margins, without signs of the disease, have a year on average survival time.

Remember that when we find a tumor lesion of 1 cm in size, these cells have multiplied at least 10,000 times and many have fallen in the circulation or invaded other places, it is worse in the malignant cells that develop a series of survival mechanisms against the body’s defenses.

With respect to tumors in the oral cavity smaller than 2 cm in diameter, with no involved regional lymph node and no evidence of metastasis, treated with surgery, the average survival time is 12 to 14 months, while the node is compromised reduces for 3 Months .

07 – How is melanoma treatment protocol?

Surgery is the most effective modality of local treatment for melanoma. When the skin (except digit), the behavior tends to be less aggressive and often only surgery can be curative. The radiation plays an important role in the treatment of melanoma in dogs and cats , either as primary or adjuvant treatment after surgery or with chemotherapy protocol.

In Brazil veterinary work for the development of radiotherapy centers that can meet the needs of our patients. Melanoma is known to be somewhat responsive tumor chemotherapy and in average 20% of dogs with melanoma respond partially and very durable.

The immunotherapy , as well as the human, may represent a logical strategy for systemic treatment of melanoma. The development of vaccines with the tumor itself or cell culture in order to improve and stimulate immunity by the patient may have promising results.

Based on the immunohistochemical studies of the tumor has been evaluated the therapeutic potential of using specific anti-inflammatories.

08 – Is there any difference in the treatment offered by the Pet Care?

The differential Pet Care is the quality of its practitioners, the ability to offer a radiographic examination of quality very quickly, the practicality of having the same site a state-tomography in aid of staging the disease, the excellence of its surgeons and pathologists (with transcirúrgico histopathology in the evaluation of margins and immunohistochemistry for prognostic assessment) and the possibility to offer the best cancer treatment for a patient who really needs a lot of attention.

Currently the Pet Care has an ongoing project to provide a cutting edge radiotherapy service for our customers, radiation therapy will help control the disease. In humans, radiotherapy is considered the most effective treatment modality for the management of pain lysis (destruction) of tumor origin bone.

09 – You can perform these tests and treatment in an ordinary clinic? Or just generally hospitals have the necessary structure?

The cytological examination is a very simple embodiment, or by aspiration, or capillary imprint does not require special equipment, only a technique suitable embodiment, identification and conservation of cytological sample. Regarding the treatment, skin surgery can be performed on small surgical centers, but amputation of digits and more extensive surgery of the oral cavity requires proper structure centers.

10 – The animal feels pain when you have melanoma?

Yes, melanoma is directly related to inflammation and its invasive nature of the phalanges (in the case of the digit) and the mandible and maxilla (in the case of the oral cavity) is a determining factor for intense local pain. When the animal oral cavity has salivation (drooling), often with blood, when the lesion is ulcerated, bad breath (necrosis odor), chews with difficulty, usually on the opposite side of the lesion and edema (swelling) of the face. In the digit, the lame patient and sometimes can not even support the most ventral paw injuries. After surgery, in the case of the oral cavity, there is a rapid period of adjustment, but the patient back to eat normally.

11 – It is a rapid metastasis cancer? How soon it spreads and what are the consequences?

Yes, melanomas of the oral cavity and digit has high metastatic potential. By having a high rate of cell proliferation within a few months metastases are formed generally in lymph nodes (nodes) and lung. Studies show that 70% of dogs in the act of diagnosis of oral cavity melanoma have regional lymph node affected, but in only 30% of the affected lymph nodes were enlarged in size, so the importance of staging with the guidance of an oncologist .

The consequences of widespread cancer are directly related to the malfunction of the body affected, for example, if the lung, respiratory failure, in the liver, liver failure, as well as advanced neoplastic disease trigger syndromes such as cachexia (weight loss), for consumption of nutrients by cancer cells and lack of appetite and malaise, which becomes worse in the oral cavity cancer.

12 – Since it is difficult to identify the owners resort to a veterinarian usually when the case is serious?

Unfortunately not everyone has the habit of taking the exam of the oral cavity of their dogs, in some cases it really is difficult and only when symptoms appear is to identify that something is wrong. Sometimes the lesion is located at the mouth of the background even more difficult identification.

13 – What are the advantages of detecting the problem early in the disease?

The prognosis is directly related to the size of the lesion, so the earlier you identify and remove the tumor, the greater the survival time. Moreover, in the early stage, the disease usually does not affect the clinical status of the patient, allowing a faster postoperative recovery.

14 – Many dogs die from melanoma?

Yes, according to prognostic factors such as location and staging of the disease.

15 – It is common to melanoma recurrence?

Yes, place and metastatic. In lesions with incomplete resection this occurs very quickly. Recalling that for a complete resection often have to carry out a more radical procedure with bone removal due to infiltrative disease. The trans-surgical histopathology performed by freezing, assists, by far, the detection and removal of positive margins by neoplastic cells.

16 – As the prevention of melanoma is made?

The frequent examination of the oral cavity, the owner and every visit to the vet, even in the routine, for example, to vaccination; and maintaining the hygiene of the oral cavity. Remembering that it is a tumor directly related to inflammation and that factors such as trauma and constant injuries may be predisposing to the development of the disease, periodontal treatment (teeth cleaning) with removal of dental plaque (tartar) that causes gum inflammation, helps prevention of cancers of the oral cavity.

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