My Pet Has A Mast Cell Tumor. What Does That Mean?

By Species, By Topic, Cancer, Cats, Dogs

A mast cell is a type of white blood cell associated with the body’s allergic response (remove coma)  and other immune system functions. Mast cells release certain substances that help to break down proteins that the immune system has flagged as being potentially harmful. Mast cells perform an important function, but they can also form tumors, which normally occur in the skin, respiratory, or digestive systems.

Not all mast cell tumors are malignant. Some are benign, which means they aren’t doing your body any harm. Mast cells tumors that form on the skin can occur anywhere on the body, and vary in size, shape, and consistency. If these tumors develop in areas other than the skin, you can spot them by looking for symptoms like vomiting or ulcerations. All dogs are risk of developing these types of tumors, regardless of breed or sex.

Approximately 20% of all skin tumors in dogs turn out to be mast cell tumors. Because there is so much variance in their appearance, a biopsy is the only way to accurately determine the type of  tumor and grade of its severity. These steps, identifying, grading, and staging are very important for you and your veterinarian to know when making decisions about treatment. This can also help determine whether other tests may be indicated to determine if a skin tumor is negatively affecting another area of your dog’s body.

Treatment for these tumors usually involves surgery but (move coma to here), depending on the grade or stage of the tumor, your dog might need further treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy. Within the past few years, researchers have developed new chemotherapies that are more effective at targeting mast cell tumors and have fewer side effects. Kinavet (a newer medication) is in pill form, and can be given by an owner at home, which helps with decreasing the stress related to visits to the vet clinic.

If your dog has any suspicious lump on its body, please call CEDARCREST Animal Clinic at 540-943-7577 so our veterinarians can properly identify the growth and establish a treatment plan for your pet.

CEDARCREST Animal Clinic provides medical and surgical care for every stage of your pet's life including preventive wellness care exams and vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care for your dog, cat, avian, or exotic. We are home to the only veterinarian practitioner in Virginia to be double Boarded in Avian and Canine/Feline care and provide care for birds, small mammals, and reptiles of all sorts! Plus, we are home to Virginia's most exclusive dog boarding resort that includes heated floors, an expansive play area, and even webcams so you can watch your pet while you're away. We're located in Fishersville, Virginia, and serve Augusta County and surrounding areas including Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Charlottesville. 

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