Lumps and bumps on your dog or cat often appear as your pet ages. But because they’re small (at first) and don’t appear to be causing your pet any discomfort, you ignore them. “Oh, it’s just a little wart,” you might say, or “It’s just a funny little fatty thing on his tummy. Really no problem at all.” But the truth is that lumps or bumps are often cancerous and the sooner they’re removed the greater your pet’s chances of recovery.
Why should I have lumps and bumps removed?
We generally recommend removing all growths because:
- It is easier and cheaper to remove a growth when it is small. If you leave it too long it can get very large and invade surrounding tissues or even spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body.
- We can submit the growth to the lab to find out exactly what it is and what the prognosis is. Once we know what the growth is we know if we must look for other growths in the body, if the patient needs chemotherapy or if it is benign.
- Removing the growth early prevents discomfort later on and may mean the difference between life and death if your pet has cancer.
Sometimes small skin growths are an indication of other larger internal growths in the abdomen or chest. Removing the skin growth and finding out what it is often leads us to another growth inside the body. The earlier we know about those growths, the better the chance we can do something about it, and the more cost-effective the treatment.
“We recently saw a patient that had a growth on the leg. It had started out as a 2cm growth that had grown to 8cm. Unfortunately by the time we saw it it was attached to a much larger tumour and the only way to remove the cancer was to amputate the leg,” said veterinarian Dr Ingrid de Wet.
It is especially important to remove growths on the animal’s legs, face (especially the eyelids) and anus as early as possible as these can be particularly difficult to remove when they grow larger.
What kinds of cancer can my pet get?
Generally vets see a large number of growths ranging from highly malignant Mast Cell Tumours and Squamous Cell Carcinomas (types of skin cancer) to benign lipomas or fatty growths plus mammary tumours common in unspayed pets.
Your vet will do a general medical check up to determine your pet’s state of health and examine the growth in detail. This may include a fine needle aspirate – where some cells are extracted from the growth and evaluated under the microscope to help determine what type of growth it is. The course of treatment will then be discussed with you.