There are two major types of canine oral cancer, benign or malignant. Benign tumors cannot spread to other parts of the body, but can potentially develop into a malignant form, which readily spreads to deeper tissues and other parts of the body. Other then a primary classification of oral or dog mouth cancer, some secondary cancers such as osteosarcoma may occur in the teeth and oral skeleton.
- Benign Dog Oral Cancer; Epiludes and fibromas are two common forms of benign oral cancer in dogs. Older dogs are more susceptible and epiludes are classified further with three histological sub types, i.e. they can occur in different cellular layers of the oral cavity. These may not affect other parts of the body by spreading or metastases. However, they can develop into a malignant form of canine dog mouth cancer if left untreated. They are thus considered non-invasive, but it should be remembered that even benign types of canine oral cancer can penetrate into adjacent tissues and bones.
- Malignant Dog Oral Cancer; A dog’s oral cavity and pharynx are mostly affected by malignant melanomas, squamous cell carcinomas and fibrosarcomas. Squamous cell carcinomas are the most common type found in malignant dog oral cancer; 60% of all malignant oral cancer in dogs is squamous cell carcinomas. Any part of the oral cavity including the gums, teeth, tongue, palate, pharynx or marginal part of nasal cavity can be affected by these canine tumors. These are highly invasive and penetrate into other parts of the body, such as the lymphatic system, circulatory system and the deeper thoracic cavity.
It is hard to clinically analyze a canine oral cancer. Neither its appearance or clinical symptoms can represent the type of cancer causing the problem. A variety of lesions and their appearance can be found on clinical examination, which is usually misunderstood when inflammation exists due to any injury. For example, a dog mouth problem might be because of the complicated anatomical formation of the dog oral cavity.
Clinically, canine oral cancer may appear as projections, compact masses or irrationally distributed lesions across the cavity. Bad breath, bleeding from the mouth, inability to eat, hyper salivation, aggressiveness and facial deformities and swellings are common symptoms of dog mouth cancer, but are highly non specific. Therefore, an eliminatory technique for making a confirmatory diagnosis is usually required.
Though clinical examination and the elimination of other possibilities may help, confirmation of the disease is made by either a detailed biopsy or with radiography. Samples are collected randomly from lesions and projections in the mouth. Deeper tissues should be selected for this purpose. Cancerous cells can be identified in the laboratory, while categorizing cancerous developments can help in selecting the mode of treatment. Radiography is very helpful in estimating the status and penetration of cancerous tissues.
There are different options available for treating canine oral cancer. Surgical removal, cryosurgery (freezing of cancerous tissues), chemotherapy and radiation therapy are some commonly preferred treatment plans. The selection of a treatment plan is based upon making a confirmatory and definite diagnosis.
The location of oral cancer in dogs and the status of the condition is very important; malignant forms can never be treated by applying any option alone. Similarly, cancer that have penetrated the tissues and sporadic lesions of oral cancer are hard to treat with a single treatment option. Two or more treatment options are usually combined to eliminate oral cancers.
Support is required before and after a specific treatment plan is put into place. Specific drugs and natural remedies such as C-Caps Capsules, an anti-oxidant, can help in this regard. Other types of natural remedies that support the gums and teeth, such as Gums-n-Teeth may also be of value in minimizing symptoms. Check with your veterinarian regarding the appropriateness of this approach in your dog’s specific case.
Prognosis is dependent upon the stage, type and treatment plan of the dog oral cancer. Generally, this condition is rated, “Poor”.
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