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Cancer and your beloved pet

It Is not just humans who have to battle cancer. It strikes our beloved pets as well.
What are neoplasia, tumours and cancer?
Neoplasia is the uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells or tissues in the body, and the abnormal growth itself is called a neoplasm or tumour. It can be benign or malignant. Benign neoplasms do not grow aggressively, do not invade the surrounding body tissues, and do not spread throughout the body. Malignant neoplasms, on the other hand, tend to grow rapidly, invade the tissues around them, and spread, or metastasize to other parts of the body.

The word tumour or 'mass' is often used to describe the actual swelling or other physical appearance of a neoplasm. The word 'cancer' is often confused with neoplasia, but only malignant neoplasms are truly cancers.

How common are neoplasia and cancer?
Neoplasia is common in pet animals and the incidence increases with age. Cancer accounts for almost half of the deaths of pets over ten years of age. Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while cats get fewer.

How is it diagnosed?
Neoplasia is often suspected on the basis of the pet's medical history and physical examination. Additional tests, such as radiographs (x-rays), blood tests, and ultrasound exams, may be necessary to confirm neoplasia. A biopsy, taking a tissue sample from the neoplasm for examination under a microscope, is usually necessary to confirm the diagnosis and help determine if the neoplasm is benign or malignant. Additional biopsies of other tissues, such as lymph nodes, may be necessary to determine how far a malignant neoplasm (cancer) has spread.

Is neoplasia preventable?
Unfortunately, the cause of most neoplastic diseases is not known and, therefore, prevention is difficult. Early detection and treatment are the best ways to manage neoplasia in pets.

And what are the most common symptoms in small animals?
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 odour, difficulty eating or swallowing, hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina, persistent lameness or stiffness, difficulty breathing or defecating.

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