Canine Jaw Cancer

Written by tracy hodge
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Canine Jaw Cancer
Approximately 6 per cent of all types of cancers in dogs are located in the mouth. (dog mug shot, intense, smart, wonder, frown lines image by Paul Retherford from Fotolia.com)

Dogs may suffer from many different types of cancer. However, tumours in the mouth are the fourth most common type of cancer in dogs. Canine jaw cancer may require aggressive treatment, including the removal of a portion of the jaw. Dogs that must have this type of treatment may have reconstructive surgery to improve the appearance of the jaw after cancer treatment is completed.

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Identification

Canine jaw cancer is the presence of a malignant tumour in the mouth. Some tumours are benign and do not grow. A benign tumour is removed if possible. A malignant tumour may grow deep into the tissues of the mouth and jaw, and must be removed quickly before it spreads to other parts of the dog's body.

Types

Fibrosarcoma is an aggressive type of cancer that may require radical treatment. This type of tumour may be locally invasive and can have roots deep into the jaw bone. Dogs that receive treatment for this aggressive cancer usually survive one to two years with surgery and radiation.

A squamous cell carcinoma is a tumour that has a good prognosis if it is removed. A squamous cell carcinoma may affect the lower jaw, tongue or tonsils.

Osteosarcoma is a serious form of canine jaw cancer that has a poor prognosis if the tumour is located in the upper jaw. Osteosarcoma tumours that are located on the lower part of the jaw have a better prognosis because they are easier to remove. This type of tumour can spread to other parts of the dog's body, such as the lungs, if treatment is not sought.

Symptoms

Oral cancers in dogs may not be discovered until the cancer is very advanced. The symptoms associated with mouth cancers in dogs may include difficulty chewing, an increase in salivation, difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, weight loss, foul breath and bloody saliva. Another symptom of an oral tumour is loose teeth in an otherwise healthy mouth.

Diagnosis

In order to determine if your dog has jaw cancer, your veterinarian will perform a full physical evaluation and take a detailed medical history of your dog. A biopsy of the tumour may be done to confirm the diagnosis of cancer. A biopsy is a sample of cells taken from the tumour and examined by your veterinarian under a microscope. If abnormal cells are present, the diagnosis of cancer is made. Diagnostic tests such as a CT scan, MRI or X-rays may be performed in order to determine if the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.

Treatment

The treatment for canine jaw cancer depends on the type of tumour that is present. According to Wing-N-Wave Labradors, surgery may be performed to remove the tumour if it is accessible. In some cases, this may involve removing a portion of the upper or lower jaw. Surgery is usually followed by radiation or chemotherapy or a combination of the two in order to reduce the likelihood the cancer will return.

Considerations

If your dog experiences any of the symptoms associated with jaw cancer, consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Dogs that have tumours that are less than 2 cm in diameter have the best outlook for recovery. Dogs that have aggressive forms of jaw cancer have an average survival time of eight to 11 months after surgery and radiation therapy.

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