Dogs eat a lot of the same things as humans and live in similar environments. According to studies that have looked at the possibility of a correlation, there are commonalities between canine and human cancers.
In the course of their lives, 1 in 4 dogs will develop cancer (or even more according to some studies). One of the top causes of death in North America for humans is lung cancer. Relatively speaking, compared to other malignancies in pets, lung cancer in pets makes up just approximately 1% of tumors.
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Despite the fact that lung cancer in dogs is less common than other canine cancers, it is still vital to understand the symptoms, the course of the disease, and the possible treatments in order to make the best choice for your cherished family member.
What is Lung Cancer?
Most of us associate cancer with lumps or bumps that appear on the skin or other internal organs. This is entirely accurate. These lumps and bumps develop as a result of abnormal cell growth and replication.
This uncontrolled spread of malignant cells results in lung cancer in dogs.
These masses may start to spread (metastasize) to other areas via the blood or lymphatic system as they continue to develop uncontrollably (frequently at unpredictable and varying speeds).
Types of Lung Cancer in Dogs
A primary lung carcinoma is the most frequent type of lung tumor seen in dogs, and it develops from the tissues within the lung. Although this tumor usually develops as a sizable, solitary mass, it can migrate to the lungs, nearby lymph nodes, or even the bone.
A primary lung histiocytic sarcoma is one of the possible lung cancers in dogs. This phrase refers to a histiocyte tumor, a type of white blood cell that can develop as a solitary tumor in the lungs. This tumor is regarded as having a high risk of metastasizing, most frequently to the lymph nodes, lymph nodes, and other internal organs.
Many cancers that are not lung-related can metastasize to the lungs. As a result, it is crucial to always investigate other locations for a probable initial mass that may have progressed to the lungs if any cancer is discovered in a dog’s lungs.
Signs of Lung Cancer in Dogs
Lung cancers are frequently accidentally discovered. Many dogs with early-stage lung cancer exhibit no clinical indications or unclear clinical indicators associated with the illness.
However, in other circumstances, clinical signs may appear as the mass(es) inside the lungs or other sites continue to grow or spread.
Common clinical signs include:
- Lethargic behavior
- Exercise intolerance
- Weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
The tumor may potentially damage the bone if it spreads there. High levels of discomfort may result and weakening the bone to the point where it may shatter. Depending on the bone involved, dogs may exhibit lameness or back pain.
Cause of Lung Cancer in Dogs
Lung cancers can develop in people if they smoke, are exposed to pollution, or have persistent airway irritation from asbestos exposure.
The relationship between exposure and the emergence of lung cancers in dogs, however, is less well understood. Many of these same factors have been studied, but no definitive links between them and the development of lung cancers have been found.
Less is known about the causes of histiocytic sarcomas that arise in the lungs in the scientific literature. However, due to often occurring genetic abnormalities, several breeds, including Rottweilers, Flat-Coated Retrievers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs, are typically more susceptible to malignant tumors.
Diagnosing Lung Cancer in Dogs
Chest X-rays are the most common imaging method used to diagnose a malignant lung tumor in dogs. It’s crucial to perform a physical examination on a dog to find out whether there are any other masses on its skin, rectum, oral cavity, or anywhere else on its body. Physical examination may reveal pain that could be a bone lesion, and radiographs of the area may be advised.
X-rays constitute a first assessment of the lungs, and three views should be taken. This offers a 3-dimensional view of the chest cavity. Three views are crucial since a mass might be seen on the left and top views but not on the right.
It is always advised to use abdominal ultrasonography as a staging tool. This gives your veterinarian or veterinary specialist the opportunity to assess the presence of any additional tumors or abnormalities that might have influenced the growth of a lung lesion. As a starting point, bloodwork and urine testing are also advised.
It could be advised to get a CT scan if the lesion is in doubt. This might entail a scan of the entire body or simply the chest cavity. One of the more sophisticated methods of assessing lung masses is typically necessary for surgical planning. The CT scan enables veterinary professionals to examine more lung lobes, find tiny lesions that might not have been visible on the X-rays, and assess the lymph nodes of a dog.
The veterinary professional might suggest an ultrasound-guided aspirate, a sort of biopsy, to identify the tumor type in your dog. If the mass is close to the edge of the lung, it might be safer to use the ultrasound to send a needle into the mass in order to collect cell samples (called cytology) that will help with the diagnosis.
Life Expectancy for Dogs with Lung Cancer
For isolated, single lesions that may be surgically removed, the prognosis for lung cancer in dogs is typically good. The prognosis can, however, be affected by a number of variables, including size, grade (how aggressive it appears under a microscope), lymph node involvement, and clinical indicators at the time of diagnosis.
With good control, the median survival times can range from a little under a year to more than two years. Your oncologist should be consulted about this.
The knowledge base on primary lung histiocytic sarcomas is substantially more constrained. When given extensive surgery and chemotherapy, 37 dogs in one trial with the disease’s history had a median survival duration of slightly over a year.
It’s vital to keep in mind that every dog reacts differently to treatment and that every tumor reacts differently as well. Both of these elements have an impact on a dog’s likelihood of surviving and lifespan.