Frequently Asked Questions about Cancer in Pets

How common is cancer in dogs in cats?
Cancer is the number one natural cause of death in geriatric cats and dogs, and it accounts for nearly 50 percent of deaths each year.

What causes cancer?
The cause of cancer in animals, just like in people, is largely unknown. There are certain breeds that tend to get cancer more often than others. There are environmental factors, such as sun exposure, that may be associated with an increased incidence of cancer. However, not enough is known about the causes of most cancers to completely prevent them.

What are the signs of cancer?
Like the American Cancer Society’s “Seven Early Signs of Cancer,” the Veterinary Cancer Society and the AVMA have developed a list of 10 common signs, to educate pet owners about cancer.

     * Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
    * Sores that do not heal
    * Weight loss
    * Loss of appetite
    * Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
    * Offensive odor
    * Difficulty eating or swallowing
    * Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
    * Persistent lameness or stiffness
    * Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

Can cancer be treated in animals?
Yes. Surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy are three of the most commonly recommended treatments. While some cancers can be cured, many are managed long term and some progress despite our best efforts.

 Is cancer in dogs similar to cancer in people?
Yes! Many cancers in dogs behave in a very similar manner to cancers in people. Bone cancer, bladder cancer, lymphoma and multiple myeloma are just a few examples. In fact, some of our veterinary research in pets with cancer has lead to advances in the treatment of people. We hope that this connection between people and pets with cancer will improve our ability to find cures for all types of cancer.

Kathryn Taylor, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Oncology)

Veterinary Specialty Care, LLC
 
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