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Mammary Tumors

Background
Mammary tumors:
  • Are growths involving mammary glands (breast tissue) of dogs and cats.
  • Typically occur in females, rarely occur in males.
  • Occur more frequently in dogs than cats.
  • Can often be prevented by spaying female dogs early in life.
  • Anatomy
  • Dogs normally have 5 pairs of mammary glands.
  • Cats normally have 4 pairs of mammary glands.
  • The glands are connected in a “chain” on either side of the belly.
  • The Disease
  • As with all cancer, no one knows why mammary tumors occur.
  • In dogs, 50% of mammary tumors are benign; 50% are malignant.
  • In cats, 90% of mammary tumors are malignant; only 10% are benign.
  • Malignant mammary tumors often spread to other glands, then to associated lymph nodes, then to the lung tissue.
  • In cats, the tumors can spread down a chain as well as across to the opposite chain.
  • The Diagnosis
  • Most mammary tumors are found on routine exam or while being petted.
  • Mammary tumors must be removed and biopsied in order to determine whether they are benign or malignant.
  • Bloodwork and Chest Radiographs are often part of the pre-surgical tests.
  • The Surgery
  • Requires general anesthesia and typically an overnight hospital stay.
  • Surgery typically involves removal of the tumor tissue only.
  • Depending on the size, number and location of tumors, the entire gland, multiple glands and/or the associated lymph node may be removed.
  • Aftercare
  • Antibiotics, pain medication and restricted activity are prescribed post-op.
  • Follow-up Treatment
  • No additional treatment is required for benign tumors.
  • Chemotherapy, radiation therapy or additional surgery may be recommended for malignant tumors.

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