Canine Mammary Cancer

  • Post surgery, even though it is a huge incision it looks good.  

    I was recently contacted by Kathleen Moore who wanted to share her experience with canine mammary cancer.  "Mammary cancer?" I thought to myself.  Like many things, I have not dealt with this issue so knew nothing about it.  So I did some research and tried to educate myself on the subject.  There is not a lot of information about it on the net but enough to become aware.  What I did discover is that it is not uncommon and more prevalent in certain breeds.  Age plays a factor.  Within the articles available there is a vast difference in stats on early spay with regards to the disease.  Like any cancer, early detection is essential.  Know your dog and check often.

    Kathleen was kind enough to share her story in hopes that it might save other females from the same trauma.  Below the linked articles is a short explanation of what she and her girl Smuckers went through.

    These are a few good links I found on the subject.

    DVM - 360 Prognosis, treatment of Mammary canine mammary tumors. 

    College of Veterinary Medicine - Canine Mammary tumors

    Purdue - great article on Mammary tumors

    Association of spaying and mammary tumors

    S - Was it you or your vet who noticed something? What was the first symptom?

    K - Right after Smuckers finished with her season the end of May, we were playing on the floor and I rubbed her tummy. There it was. About the size of a pea by her 2nd nipple. Being a nurse, I rubbed and rolled it. It felt just like a little hard pea. Since I am not one to jump at every little thing, I watched it. During this time, there was no change in Smuckers activity, her appetite or her demeanor. But it got bigger and I noticed another bump.  

  • S - What were the tests that were done to diagnosis mammory cancer?

    K - At Smuckers first appointment, Doc K did a physical exam. Since Smuckers loves her Doc, she rolled right over!! With her relaxed and his fingers knowing what they were looking for, he found more little tiny lumps by nipples 1 and 3 on the right side. An X-ray was done and I saw the shadows of the lumps.

    S - Did your vet fully educate you on the problem?

     K - Doc K explained that they could or could not be cancer. That we could watch them, but since one had already more than doubled in size we probably shouldn't wait very long. He explained that if it was cancer, there was always the chance that it could spread to other internal organs.

    S - Which treatments did you choose?

    K - The only question I remember asking was when can you take them out! Smuckers had surgery the following Monday to remove the lumps and to be spayed. That was one of the worst days of my life! She did absolutely wonderful!! When I went to pick her up, she came into the exam room with her tail up and wagging!! 

    S - What is the prognosis?

    K - When Doc K came in, he told us that he was aggressive and took a lot of the surrounding tissue around each little lump and that the pathology report would be back on Wednesday or Thursday. We left the clinic and I put Smuckers in the back of my SUV. Even with a 14 inch incision on her tummy, she was having none of that! Into the front seat she came and laid her head on my hand. On Wednesday, Doc K called and told me that the pathology report had come back Adenocarcinoma, but that all the tissue around the lumps had come back with clear margins. This means that there were no cancer cells in the surrounding tissue! Our prognosis is that we live each and every day like it is our last! Doc K's prognosis is that the cancer is gone and she should enjoy her Senior years! 

    Healed up nicely and doing great.  

    S - How is she doing now?

    K - Since Smuckers is the most stubborn, obstinate, and bull headed girl I have ever had, she does exactly as she wants. Before she would be reprimanded. But, now at the age of almost 12, I have given in and pretty much let her do her thing! I just love this little blue girl so very much!! She swims, she naps, she plays with our 5 month old little girl. She is still our Queen and rules the others!! 

    S - Anything else you would like to tell us about mammary cancer in canines?

    K - I had asked Doc K about mammary cancer in canines. Unfortunately there is not all that much information. It seems that most people don't even think about it and by the time their dog goes to the vet, it has already spread and reached the life threatening stages. I just want all my "doggie friends" to know that they should check their intact companions every month for little lumps!!