Dog Oral Tumor Surgery
The oral cavity is the third most common site for cancer in animals.
Unfortunately due to its location, most pet owners are alerted to the presence of the tumor too late. Animals are creatures of instinct; therefore the presence of a tumor will not cause them to stop eating until late in the disease. The tumor can either be benign or malignant. The latter has the capacity to grow aggressively and destroy local tissue as well as spread internally to the other organs. Benign tumors are usually very amenable to surgical resection since they have a tendency to remain local and not spread. One group of tumors collectively referred to as Epuli are not in fact true cancers. Although extremely common in dogs, they are infrequent in cats. These usually benign masses stem from the periodontal ligaments and when removed do not usually return. One exception to this is the acanthomatous epulis. This tumor is locally aggressive; however, it can usually be put into remission with complete removal through dog oral tumor surgery, along with some of the surrounding bone.
Early detection, whether in humans or animals, is the guiding rule. Those owners that are consistent in caring for their animal’s teeth on a daily basis usually will be alerted to the presence of these tumors. The presence of a soft or firm mass anywhere in the mouth, regardless of color, should be evaluated immediately.
It is important to determine what kind of tumor is growing in your dog’s mouth. It is impossible for anyone to simply look at or touch an oral tumor and provide a diagnosis, prognosis or an appropriate treatment plan. We may take a small sample (incisional biopsy) or remove the bulk of the tumor and surrounding tissue (excisional biopsy). The sample is then submitted for analysis by a histopathologist to identify the type of tumor your dog has. Once we know the type, we are able to better predict how the tumor will likely behave in the mouth and recommend the best treatment options to you. The diagnosis may eliminate your initial worry and fear! In many cases we can and do successfully treat facial swellings that are oral cysts or benign tissue growths that initially appeared very bad.
Staging of your dog’s oral tumor involves evaluating the extent of the tumor’s local involvement, and whether the tumor cells have spread to distant areas. Dental radiographs can give us an indication of how invasive the primary growth is and help us determine margins for complete removal. Blood tests, chest radiographs, lymph node evaluation and advanced imaging such as computed tomography (CT) may be used. Staging is useful in establishing the prognosis and planning additional treatment. It can provide clues as to what you might expect with the disease. Dental radiographs are performed in every case and they are extremely helpful in determining the level of invasiveness of the tumor.
Prognosis & Outcome
The prognosis is determined through consideration of the tumor type, size, location and staging. Invasive and malignant tumors sometimes require complete removal of the affected bone. Despite this these surgeries can still be very successful and result in minimal cosmetic changes for the pet patient. The outcome usually depends on the size and location of the tumor.