Ovens & Murray Advertiser - North East Regional Extra

Cancer in animals

- With Felix DeNatris, Wangaratta Veterinary Clinic

UNFORTUNAT­ELY, as with people, cancer is a relatively common finding in older animals.

Generally, above eight years of age. Cancer is the developmen­t of abnormal cells in the body that replicate in an uncontroll­ed manner.

Most often cancers present with a lump, although some are diffuse, and found in the blood or various organs and are often much harder to diagnose.

All the tissues in the body have the potential to become cancerous and the symptoms seen will vary depending on location.

The symptoms of cancer can be very varied and include masses on skin, vomiting and diarrhoea from intestinal tumours, blood in urine with bladder tumours, coughing with lung tumours, or are non-descript like weight loss or lethargy.

To diagnose cancer your vet will perform a range of different tests.

A biopsy of the cancerous tissue is often the most diagnostic test your vet will perform, it will not only diagnose a cancer but also determine which type of cancer is present.

This is very important to determine the best course of treatment as well as the overall prognosis.

Your vet will also often recommend running blood tests to look at various parameters in the blood that affect treatment and prognosis and will also perform chest radiograph­s to look for spread of the cancer.

Treatment options include surgery, chemothera­py and radiation therapy.

Surgery will generally be recommende­d for any discrete masses as removing the tumour can often be curative.

For more diffuse cancers such as lymphoma, chemothera­py is the treatment option of choice.

Chemothera­py for animals differs from human chemothera­py.

Generally, the chemothera­py agents are much less aggressive than human drugs, so pets will not loose their hair and nausea is short lived and mild.

The goals of animal chemothera­py often don’t include curing the animal and more focus on improving their quality of life.

If you are concerned about any lumps or any health issue with your pet book in for a consultati­on with your vet.

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