Dog prostate cancer also known as prostatic neoplasia is a rare type of cancer in dogs. Though uncommon it is still a severe illness that can affect both intact and neutered male dogs. This type of cancer usually occurs in older dogs with an average of about ten years of age, depending on the dog’s breed. Though there is no known breed more susceptible to prostate cancer, middle-sized, large to giant breeds are found to be more affected. Since the life expectancy of larger breeds to smaller breeds is shorter the prostate cancer develops earlier in larger breeds.
Background on the Prostate
To give one some background on the prostate organ, it is a lobed gland located at the junction of the bladder and the urethra. It is only found in male dogs. This gland contributes a liquid component to the dog’s seminal fluid. This particular gland increases in weight and mass as the dog ages.
Development of Dog Prostate Cancer
Tumors of prostate cancer are highly invasive, aggressive, at times occupying great masses that have spread to the spine, pelvis, lymph nodes, lungs and other organs of the dog’s body by the time they are detected. The most common type of prostate cancer in male dogs is adenocarcinoma. Other types of cancer that can be associated to prostate cancer are carcinoma, fibrosarcoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and leiomyocarcinoma.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer in Dogs
Pet owners should be wary of a number of symptoms when it comes to prostate cancer. Symptoms of prostate cancer in dogs develop gradually and can at times be mistaken to other benign prostate disease. The following symptoms to watch out for in your dogs are frequent attempts to urinate, urination in abnormally small amounts, incontinence, straining to urinate, difficulty in urinating, blood in the urine, straining to defecate, constipation, scooting and periodic watery, and bloody discharge from the dog’s penis.
As dog prostate cancer progresses, the suffering dog may experience one or two of the following symptoms, increased signs of pain, behaviour change, lethargy, loss of appetite and weight, lameness, and fever. Dogs can exhibit all or just one of two of the symptoms. What is important is that owners upon discovering such symptoms will be ready to bring their pet to their trusted veterenarians to seek their professional help for diagnosis and symptoms.
Diagnosing Dog Prostate Cancer
Veterenarians will perform physical examinations on the dog suspected of having prostate cancer. Among those exams are abdominal and rectal palpitation. Throughout the rectal examination the veterinarian will feel the prostate gland to assess the size, texture and count ours. In the event of a prostate cancer, the veterinarian will commonly feel a large, asymmetrical, irregular and painful prostate gland. The vet may also find a palpable mass in the abdomen.
If the diagnosis with the physical exam is positive the veterinarian will order more examinations including, serum chemistry profile, blood count, urinalysis and urine culture. Another test a vet can perform is an ultrasound of the prostate gland. This method is preferred when it comes to assessing the general health of the prostate as it can help identify and mark between prostatic cysts, abscesses and tumours.
Chest and abdominal x-rays as well as abdominal ultrasound will also be performed to see if the cancer has metastasised. Fine needle aspiration can also be ordered by the veterinarian to sample regional lymph nodes to discover signs of the cancer spreading to the other organs.
The only sure way to diagnose prostate cancer is through biopsy. If signs were discovered with the physical and other examinations biopsy will be done to your dog. There is no prevention method discovered to date. Since prostatic tumours are not influenced by testosterone, castration will not help in preventing the development of dog prostate cancer.
Can Prostate Cancer in Dogs Be Cured?
The most efficient and effective cure for this cancer is surgery. However, surgery can only prove effective if the diagnosis of the disease has been made early. If the cancer has metastasised surgery will no longer cure the cancer. Veterinarians will opt to put your dog under radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Holistic vets may suggest natural dog cancer supplements, either instead of or as an adjunct to conventional therapies.
If prostate cancer is discovered early chances of survival may be high. Sadly, eighty percent of documented dog prostate cancer has only been discovered when the cancer has already metastasized, giving a low and negative prognosis.
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