A Primer On Mast Cell Tumors

Mast cells are inflammatory cells that originate in the bone marrow and circulate in many body tissues. They are important in allergic responses, tissue growth, wound healing, and nonallergic skin diseases.

Mast cell tumors are more common in dogs than in cats. 

A Primer On Mast Cell Tumors: Boxers are one of the susceptible breeds.

They are most common in boxers, bull terriers, Boston terriers, Labrador retrievers, shar peis, golden retrievers, schnauzers and cocker spaniels. Most mast cell tumors in dogs originate in the skin. However, they can develop elsewhere, including the lungs, liver, and spleen.

What does it look like

Signs can be nonspecific and depend on the location of the tumor. These tumors are called the “great imitators” because they resemble many other tumor types.

In dogs, mast cell tumors commonly appear as red, itchy lumps. 

Their size may change rapidly, and they may disappear and return. The tumor produces inflammatory proteins that can cause inflammation at the tumor site and elsewhere in the body. Nonspecific signs include weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite.

A Primer On Mast Cell Tumors: Mast Cell Tumor
Mast cell tumor. Image Wikipedia

Mast cell tumor treatment

Treatment largely depends on the tumor(s) stage, which refers to determining the extent and severity of the disease.

Taking a biopsy is helpful for staging. Other influencing factors include:

  • the number and location of tumors
  • the level of lymph node involvement

Further, considerations for staging include::

  • results of blood tests
  • x-rays and ultrasounds of the chest and abdomen
  • analysis of bone marrow samples

Surgery to remove the tumor from your dog is always the first and most important treatment. 

Your dog might need further treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, depending on the staging.

Non-surgical treatment option for mast cell tumors

A new, non-surgical treatment for canine mast cell tumors is now out there–Stelfonta®. It is especially a perfect option for tumors in locations with a scarce amount of tissue, such as lower legs. It is extremely difficult to remove a tumor with clean margins at such locations. I wish Stelfonta® was available when your dog developed a mast cell tumor. The veterinarian did achieve clean margins but our dog required a skin graft to close the wound.

Stelfonta® in injectable intra-tumoral therapy. The tumor dies and comes off and doesn’t need to be excised.

Further information: Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs: Non-Surgical Treatment—Stelfonta®

Related articles:
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: What Is that Bump?
Canine Mast Cell Tumors: JD’s Mast Cell Tumor Diagnostics, Strategy, and Treatment
Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs: Non-Surgical Treatment—Stelfonta®

Further reading:
Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs

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