How quickly do cancerous lumps grow on dogs? What to Know

What is a mast cell?

A mast cell is a type of white blood cell that is found in many tissues of the body. Mast cells are allergy cells and play a role in the allergic response. When exposed to allergens, mast cells release chemicals and compounds, a process called degranulation. One of these compounds is histamine. Histamine is commonly known for causing itchiness, sneezing, and runny eyes and nose – the common symptoms of allergies. But when histamine (and the other compounds) is released in excessive amounts (with mass degranulation), it can cause full-body effects, including anaphylaxis, a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction.

How to Spot Cancerous Lumps in Dogs

As our pets age it is not uncommon for them to develop lumps in or under the skin, it is important to regularly check your pet over and bring them for a check up if you notice anything new.

The warning signs of cancer in dogs are fairly similar to those in humans, although some can be harder to spot due to your dog’s coat. Regular vets check ups and grooming services will help to catch anything you don’t notice at home.

A large lump might not necessarily be cancerous, it could be something benign like a lipoma. However, it’s always best to get changes like this checked out by your vet.

Some lumps and bumps grow over time, but a lump that develops suddenly is a warning sign to visit the vet.

Like in humans, changes to existing lumps could be a sign of cancer. Look for changes in size, texture and colour, particularly if it becomes black or purple.

Some cancerous lumps can produce a discharge which can be sampled to give a better idea of the underlying cause.

How are mast cell tumors treated?

In lower-grade tumors with no evidence of spread, surgery is likely the best option. Surgery for lower-grade tumors provides the best long-term control, with chemotherapy rarely required. However, in higher-grade tumors, even without evidence of spread, a combination of surgery and chemotherapy is often recommended. Radiation therapy is another option if the mass is not in a suitable location for surgical removal or if the surgical removal is incomplete (with cancerous cells left behind).

Given that it is now known there is an underlying genetic basis for MCT, drugs such as toceranib phosphate (Palladia®) are being designed to target the proteins associated with the development of cancer. In patients with non-surgical MCT, or recurrent MCT that has failed to respond to other chemotherapies, targeted therapy becomes a much more appealing option. A veterinary oncologist is the best resource for determining what is best for your dog.

Is this Lump Serious? 5 Steps to Know

Although our canine companions are covered in fur, their skin is still liable to develop lumps and bumps like humans. While not always, these lumps and bumps may be signs of illness or disease like cancer. Here, our Avon vets explain the kinds of lumps and bumps you might find on your dog, including cancerous and non-cancerous skin growths.