Although most lumps are harmless, some can be very dangerous if left untreated, especially those that are cancerous.
Your pet can get lumps from insect bites, mange, cysts, calluses, infected skin and warts, all of which might appear dangerous. These conditions may cause your pet pain but are not nearly as dangerous as malignant cancer.
Cancer is a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells forming a lump.
Cancer lumps can usually be classed as malignant or benign.
Benign lumps stay in one place. Although these cancers can be painful they are not as feared as malignancies as there is a good chance they can be removed, especially if diagnosed early. The most common benign lump diagnosed is the lipoma.
Malignant lumps spread around the body. These cancers cause the most pain and suffering and it is imperative that they are diagnosed early if treatment is to be truly effective. The most common malignant lumps diagnosed are mammary (breast) and mast cell cancers.
Our vets will carefully look for lumps as part of any examination. If your pet is unwell in any way it is important for you to mention this to your vet. However, even when a lump is found your vet is unlikely to be able to tell if a lump is cancerous just by looking at it.
A sterile needle will be placed into the lump to extract some cells, which will be placed on a glass slide for staining and examination under a microscope. Sometimes this is enough for the doctor to make a diagnosis. Your pet might have to be admitted into the hospital for sedation or an anaesthetic to have the lump surgically sampled so that a greater amount of tissue can be examined. Most times at this stage the lump will be surgically removed, saving your pet from any further sedations.
If needed, tissue samples will be sent off to an external veterinary laboratory to be examined by a specialist in pathology. The laboratory used by Moorabbin Veterinary Hospital is a veterinary-only laboratory and gets results in days.
X-rays and ultrasound
If the cancer is malignant we may need to take x-rays or perform an ultrasound examination to collect evidence of internal masses.
Surgery remains the most effective way of dealing with lumps and stopping cancer in its tracks. As well as the main body of the cancer, it is important to remove the roots to prevent recurrence. At the Moorabbin Veterinary Hospital we focus on caring for the pain and comfort of patients post-operatively, and helping your family through the recovery period in the weeks to follow. If needed, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are utilised to keep cancer under control.
How to prevent lumps
During your pet’s annual health checks we carefully check for any suspicious lumps. Noticing changes early drastically improves the success of removing cancer. We recommend that you regularly check your pet all over and check with us if you notice any changes or have any concerns about your pet’s well-being.