“Bladder cancer in dogs refers to all lower urinary tract neoplasms (an abnormal new growth of tissue, also called a tumor). Most reported cases of dog bladder cancer are usually malignant (threatening to life) in nature and are highly fatal. Due to metastasis (transmission of cancerous cells from an original site to one or more sites elsewhere in the body), bladder cancer can spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs and associated lymph nodes. In almost all cases, the cancer is more frequently noticed in the urinary tract, due to the development of papillary projections, and secondary bacterial infection. Dysuria (painful urination), Hematuria (blood in the urine) and abdominal pain are some clinical signs associated with bladder cancer in dogs. Radiographs can show enlarged kidneys, with obstruction in the urinary tract. It will also show that the dog’s bladder will appear thickened. Papillary projections are easily noticed as well. Effective treatment involves the excision (removal) of any tumors if possible. Metastasis and recurrence, makes it hard to repeatedly operate> Chemotherapy is another option which will prolong the life of an affected dog.”
Types of Bladder Cancer in Dogs:
In the lower urinary tract, neoplasms are mostly malignant in nature. Since most tumors are malignant, an organ, if it is affected by a neoplasm or cancer spreads to the adjoining organs. Bladder cancer in dogs may be of various types, all of them are malignant.
Transitional cell carcinomas (An invasive malignant tumor derived from epithelial or skin tissue) is most common type of canine bladder cancer. This type of bladder cancer in dogs is the most commonly diagnosed type and in most cases has been proven as the primary type.
Other types of dog bladder cancer may be squamous cell carcinomas, adenocarcinomas and fibro sarcomas, but they are rare and mostly associated with transitional cell carcinomas.
Transitional cell carcinomas are usually either diffused, deep in bladder walls or in the shape of papillary like projections, protruding from the bladder walls.
Signs of Bladder Cancer in Dogs:
Generally, a dog with canine bladder cancer symptoms shows signs of hematuria (blood cells in the Urine), Dysuria (Difficult urination) occurs due to obstruction. A related symptom is that dogs usually cannot hold their urine long in the bladder, thus they urinate frequently and in small volumes.
Along with these common signs, abdominal pain, and enlargement and swelling of the urethra (tube the carries urine out of the body) are two specified signs of canine bladder cancer. The kidneys become enlarged and exert pressure on adjoining organs, causing pain in the hind part of the body. The walls of bladder appear thickened, and on palpation, the hardness of the bladder can be felt.
Bladder cancer dogs may also affect the adjoining lymph nodes and lungs, thus signs of urinary tract obstruction along with signs of respiratory stress, must be suspected for an urgent “Red – Degree” urinary tract neoplasm.
In some advanced cases, secondary bacterial infections occur. These can be treated, but can cause generalized clinical signs of illness, such as fever and loss of body condition.
Diagnosis of Canine Bladder Cancer:
Dog bladder cancer can be determined clinically, but cannot be confirmed on the basis of signs and symptoms alone. It requires a detailed study of urine samples (urinalysis), which can help to differentiate an infection from a cancerous development.
Radiography is necessary to show enlarged kidneys, bladder and an inflamed urinary tract. Papillary like projections can be noted in the initial stages, when bladder cancer in dogs has not turned into a diffused (spreading) form.
Treatment of Bladder Cancer in Dogs:
The most effective way to treat dog bladder cancer is to excise it, if possible. Surgical removal of malignant tumors is usually not very effective, as the chance of recurrence is relatively high.
Transitional cell carcinomas can be excised effectively in the initial stages, as it mostly occurs on the tirgone (smooth triangular region of the internal urinary bladder)smooth triangular region of the internal urinary bladder and vertical surfaces. Metastasis (how the cancer spreads) is the only problem; which makes the prognosis “Grave”.
Traditional chemotherapy on the other hand can be applied, but it can only support or prolong the life of the affected dog. High doses of Cisplatin or Piorxicam can be used in this regard, as per the veterinarian’s prescription. Depending on how far along the cancer has spread, chemotherapy can extend the lifespan typically 6 months to a year.
A new treatment has been developed at the Univeristy of Pennsylvania Mathew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital (VHUP), and which is also practiced at Purdue University in Indiana. This break through procedure is called intra-arterial chemotherapy. Using this approach, a probe injects the chemo into an artery that is close to the tumor, thereby concentrating the treatment in the needed area. The procedure can be expensive with the initial exam and stent costing $2,500, and then 4 required treatments at $1,500 each.
Homeopathic supplements such as C-Caps Formula , which contains ingredients selected for the prevention and treatment of cancer in pets, may help to boost the immune system of dogs. It should only be used in consultation with a veterinarian or homeopathic veterinarian.
J. Morris, Small Animal Oncology (Blackwell Science Ltd. 2001)
This article is reprinted through the courtesy of the Dog Health Handbook