Not All Lumps Are Born Equal!
Finding a new lump on an older pet can be a worry. Tumours of the skin and subcutaneous regions are the most common tumours affecting dogs and second most common in cats but glandular, cystic and inflammatory lesions can look and feel very similar. So what should you do if you find a new lump?
If it is greater than 2-3cm wide you should probably get it checked straight away. Studies show prognosis worsens when some lumps grow larger than 2.5cm. Vets will perform a mini biopsy called a fine needle aspirate [FNA]. Here we “suck” up some cells with a syringe and needle, spray them onto a slide, stain and view them immediately on our microscope. FNAs are a simple, cheap and relatively painless way to differentiate inflammatory from benign and malignant lesions.
Whilst only 20-30% of dog skin tumours are malignant this changes to 50-65% in the cat. So new lump on cat = FNA.
White cats can develop malignancies on their ears, eyelid and nasal plane. White dogs can develop malignancies on the hairless parts of their belly and medial thighs which look like blood blisters. In all dogs new lumps in the mouth or nail bed can be nasty, so get it checked!
Measure and Monitor
If your pet’s lump does not fall into one of these categories we advise measuring and/or photographing the mass next to a ruler and then asking the vet to check it at your next yearly health check or vaccination. If the mass grows quickly [eg doubles in size in 1-3 months], goes up and down in size, becomes ulcerated/bleeds or goes from being freely mobile to firmly attached get it checked straight away.
Prevention Is Best
Desexing female dogs not only improves behaviour and avoids unwanted pregnancies but also decreases the chance of mammary gland tumours by up to 200 times when performed prior to first heat. Keep predominantly white dogs and cats out of the sun during high UV periods [currently 9am am to 5pm on BOM website] for their entire life! Keeping white cats 100% indoor is recommended.