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What is Anal Gland Cancer?

The anal glands are small sacs found on either side of the anal opening of your dog. The lining of the sacs produces a small amount of liquid, which is eliminated each time your dog defecates. The development of a tumor in this area can be significant; even with the presence of a small growth there is the definite possibility that the tissues will be invaded and the cancer will spread (metastasize). In some cases, the tumor can cause hypercalcemia (elevated blood calcium), leading to kidney failure.

Apocrine Gland Adenocarcinoma is the scientific name for anal gland cancer, a relatively uncommon but serious form of malignant tumor. More common is the blockage, infection or impaction of the anal sac. An annual visit to the veterinarian to check your pet’s general health, which will include a rectal examination, is the best way to detect a tumor from the onset.

Anal Gland Cancer Average Cost

From 13 quotes ranging from $400 - $8,000

Average Cost

$4,000

Symptoms of Anal Gland Cancer in Dogs

An anal gland tumor is not always obvious to the eye as the tumor may be growing inward. If your dog has an anal gland tumor, he may present some or all of these symptoms:

  • Scooting his hind end along the ground
  • Licking of the perianal area
  • A lump beside the anus
  • Straining and displaying difficulty passing feces
  • Blood in the stool

Apocrine Gland Adenocarcinoma may lead to kidney failure due to elevated blood calcium which may present as follows:

  • The increased need to drink
  • Frequent urination
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
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Causes of Anal Gland Cancer in Dogs

As we find in humans, the cause of cancer is not always easily discovered. We do know that cancer found in the anal gland is diagnosed equally in male and female dogs. This type of cancer is most often found in dogs of medium to middle age. Reports have shown that spaniel breeds are found to be at increased risk for Apocrine Gland Adenocarcinoma.

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Diagnosis of Anal Gland Cancer in Dogs

At the start of the examination, the veterinarian will ask you to describe the concerning symptoms and behaviors that you are noticing in your pet. Be certain to carefully explain every sign of discomfort that you may have noticed. This will help the veterinarian to reach an accurate diagnosis. A physical exam will also take place, at which time the veterinarian may discover a mass or lump in the perianal area.

If a tumor is found, the veterinarian may need to aspirate (insert a needle) into the mass to distinguish between cancerous cells and infection. This is the biopsy, and is often performed when your pet is awake or under a very quick acting injectable sedation. Blood tests, to assess the overall health of your dog as well as verify the presence of kidney trouble, will be performed. In addition, x-rays and ultrasound may be necessary in order to evaluate the lymph nodes and organs (such as kidneys, heart and lungs).

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Treatment of Anal Gland Cancer in Dogs

Early detection of anal gland cancer in dogs is best followed with aggressive treatment.

Surgery is the first option. If the tumor was discovered in the early stages and the spread to lymph nodes is limited, complete removal of the tumor is desirable. This provides the best possible outcome for your dog. The tumor is removed through an incision directly at the site of the mass. Large tumors may necessitate removal of additional tissue surrounding the mass. In 50% of the canine cases of Apocrine Gland Adenocarcinoma, enlarged lymph nodes are found in the abdomen. They can be removed at the same time as the primary tumor.

Chemotherapy is the recommended second step, in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Radiation may be required also, particularly in cases where complete surgical removal cannot be realized. You may decide to have your veterinarian use the surgical approach only; however, the best way to improve the life expectancy of your dog will be with the additional treatments of chemotherapy and radiation.

If your pet has hypercalcemia, calcium lowering drugs and prednisone along with intravenous care, will be necessary prior to surgery.

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Recovery of Anal Gland Cancer in Dogs

Veterinary follow up is crucial to the continued health of your pet. Patients of anal gland cancer surgery and drug therapy require return visits to the clinic every 3 months for a period of 18 months. Biannual visits are important for the duration of your dog’s life.

Immediate care after surgery will involve your dog wearing an Elizabethan collar to prevent the tearing or infecting of the wound due to licking. Stool softening medication will be prescribed, and you will be instructed to limit the activity of your dog for a minimum of two weeks.

Fecal incontinence may be present in the weeks following surgery, but in most cases the problem will gradually be resolved. Continued kidney issues are a possibility which may necessitate a prescription for blood calcium reduction. The outcome of anal gland cancer depends greatly on your pet’s overall health and the size of the tumor upon discovery.

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Cost of Anal Gland Cancer in Dogs

The veterinarian will likely want to do a complete tumor removal, surgically ($1,500-$3,800). The veterinarian will likely combine surgery with chemotherapy ($1,000 per treatment) to best avoid more growths throughout the body. If the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes or is rather large then complete surgical removal may not be an option. Radiation therapy ($2,000-$6,000) will likely be the best option to combat a large tumor that would be dangerous to remove. If your dog has been diagnosed with hypercalcemia, this will need to be treated before surgery. Treatment can consist of calcium lowering drugs, Prednisone ($40 per 100ct.) as well as, the use of intravenous fluid therapy ($40-$60).

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Anal Gland Cancer Average Cost

From 13 quotes ranging from $400 - $8,000

Average Cost

$4,000

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Anal Gland Cancer Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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German Shorthaired Pointer

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Large Bump Near Sphincter

Discovered a large, soft bump on her today. She doesn’t seem to be in pain & does not mind when I lightly touch it, but I’m very concerned.

Aug. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Hello It is possible that the swelling could be a fatty tumor or what we call a lipoma. I recommend that you take him to a veterinarian so that they can take an aspirate or sample of the cells to send out to a lab. A pathologist will review the cells and see if they look like fat or other types of cells. Good luck.

Aug. 26, 2020

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Sniffon

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lump On Butt, Can’T Walk On Hips, Barley Eats Unless We Hand Feed Her

What is going on with my dog she has been getting better since 3 days ago but she still can barley walk on her back legs.

July 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear about your dog. This mass needs to be looked at by your vet. It may be a benign growth that is effecting her movement but can be the sign of something more severe such as cancer. I hope that your dog starts to improve soon.

July 26, 2020

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Basset Hound

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Anal Discharge

My dog is itching his butt and his anal glands will express themselves out of no where. It seems like it is uncomfortable, and he also has a black speck on his anus. What could this be?

July 16, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. He may need to have his anal glands expressed - sometimes the discharge builds up to the point where they need to be manually expressed, which is something that is typically done by your veterinarian, or their staff. They will be able to see if the black spot is anything to worry about, as well. I hope that all goes well!

July 16, 2020

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Roxi

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Shetland Sheepdog

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12 Days

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss

My dog, roxi, 12 year old sheltie. Developed a large mass/tumor at the base of her tail. Took her to the vet. He took blood and told me heart had a mummor, she had pancreatists, and liver wasn’t looking so good either. So he put her on a low fat food to help with the pancreas,( she has gained some weight back) and told me, the mass is so large that is it already getting too close to the rectum to remove it. He won’t do a sample as they “aren’t always reliable” . So, I left feeling like that was a death sentence. BUT he wanted me to come back and see if her vitals improved for surgery!? Even though he said he can’t remove the lump? This was about a month and a half ago. I don’t see any point in taking her back to be poked and prodded if nothing can be done for this type of tumor (who knows if it cancerous or not!) the tumor/mass hasn’t gotten larger and harder in the last month. If it continues to grow it will (if it hasn’t already) start to be problematic for her while she is having a bowl momvent. So my question. Does any of this sound accurate? I assumed they could take a sample of the mass and just give me some kind of answer. I assume since she is still alive a month and a half later that it isn’t a an agressive cancer, or even can cancer at all! So what can be done to remove the tumor? Is it really not able to remove?

Aug. 22, 2018

Roxi's Owner

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1 Recommendations

In order to be able to remove the mass Roxi needs to be in an adequate state of health, the decision to go ahead with any surgery is down to the Veterinarian performing it as they need to be certain that Roxi (or any animal) will recover from the effects of the anaesthetic; without examining Roxi and seeing lab results I cannot determine if she is suitable for surgery. The mass may grow larger which may then cause issues with defecation and surgery would be the best course of action; taking a fine needle aspirate or a biopsy is not always reliable and we prefer to send the whole mass for histopathology for the best result. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 23, 2018

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Star

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Cane Corso

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7 Years

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Critical severity

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1 found helpful

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

High Calcium

My 7 and half year old cane corso Star has been drinking and urinating excessively for the last three weeks. She(spayed) was seen by her regular vet on Tuesday (Aug7) and got blood work done. It showed that her calcium is 14.8, creatinine 1.6, IDEXX SDMA 15. We were referred to Bluepearl and seen on Thursday. She has a tumor growth (“less than a gulf ball”) on her L anal gland and cytology confirmed it is adenocarcinoma. “Abdominal ultrasound was unremarkable with the exception of hypoechoic sublumbar lymph nodes, but no lymphadenopathy. Thoracic radiographs revealed concern for an ill-defined cranial mediastinal mass effect”. Her ironized calcium was 1.7. She received Dexamethasone, and Methadone and Diazepam for her diagnostic tests. The vet there wanted to keep her there overnight and then do thoracic needle aspirate for the chest mass and surgical removal of the anal gland tumor follows. Star was extremely stressed and I needed some time to digest all the new information, so I decided to take her home and return the next day. However, Star didn’t react to Valium and methadone well, she couldn’t get off the car by herself, wasn’t respond to me, staring, shaking on her legs. She did get a little better the next morning, but I decided to give her a break from sedatives and to postpone her thoracic needle aspirate. I did some research and decided to talk to the sergeon and oncologist before proceeding to further invasive diagnostic test. And the appointment won’t happen until next Wednesday. Also I wanted to mention her Heart rate was 60+ on Thursday night, then 50+ on Friday, 42 on Saturday morning, 50+ Saturday night. I took her to bluepearl closer to me, was told not a big concern. And called the vet who treated her initially and was told it’s related to Valium no more and further check up. Star had a bad reaction ( HR dropped to 40+) to acepromazine back in last Dec from her gingival hyperplasia removal. So my questions are: 1. Is she a good candidate for anesthesia due to her bradycardia? 2. Is it absolutely necessary to the thoracic needle aspirate to confirm what kind mass it is? My thoughts is that it is most likely cancerous, Star is going to have surgery to remove the anal gland tumor and receive chemotherapy, if the mass in her chest is lymphoma, it needs chemo too. If it is other kind, I’m not going to put her through open chest surgery. The vet said the surgery most likely not performing any surgery on her abdominal lymph nodes and I don’t want that for her either. 3. Should she receive more steroids before her surgery? 4. The hardest question would be how much more life expectancy with the surgery and chemo. Would she be able to live a quality life? I’m torn into pieces and want to make the right decision for Star. Thank you so much for your time and help!

Aug. 12, 2018

Star's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

I'm sorry that is happening to Star. While I"m not able to comment on her specific drug protocols, I can say that her bradycardia would influence the drugs used for her surgery but may not make the surgery impossible. If the results of the thoracic biopsy would not change the outcome, and you will not be having chest surgery for her, I would have to agree that the needle biopsy may not be needed. We always ask what the possible benefit of any test is. I'm not sure why she received steroids, but if it is appropriate before her surgery, I'm sure that your veterinarian will make that decision for her. Her life expectancy post surgery really has a lot to do with what type of mass that might be in her chest, unfortunately. That would be the only value of the biopsy, to let you know what to expect. If the biopsy isn't going to be done, you may just have to have the anal gland removed, start her on chemotherapy and hope for the best. She may continue to live a very comfortable life. I hope that everything goes well for her.

Aug. 12, 2018

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Diego

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Australian Cattle Dog

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13 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Anal Discharge
Cancer
Tumor

My baby boy is 13.5 years old, hes and australian cattle dog and blue heeled mix. He was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his anal gland and its begun to spread. The oncologist believes surgery is a good option, not to extend his life but to make him comfortable and keep him able to poo.. I want to do everything I can to keep him out of pain but 6 to 10 grand is so much money and I dont know what to do.. please help. I feel like a terrible dog mom if I opt out of surgery and my biggest fear is having to put him down.. I pray he can pass on his own when hes ready and not in pain..

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Tikaani

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Siberian Husky

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7 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Anal Gland Tumor

My Siberian Husky is 7 yrs old and weighs 53lbs. I noticed that he was licking his behind more than normal so I pulled his tail and notices a pinhole in the skin and it was bleeding slowly. At first, I thought he had backed to a vine with thorns and got poked, but after taking him in the get routine vaccinations I had him examined. The Vet stated it was a tumor that is located on the left side of the anal. He suggested having it removed and put Tikaani on 7 days of antibiotics. He stated that it was not aggressive and didn't have to worry about it. The most common issue is it would grow back and it would have to be removed. Today is the surgery and I was asked if I wanted to send off for a Biopsy which is $275. I was told no need to worry but I have no idea what to do and it is so expensive. Any help with this decision is appreciated.

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Spirit

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Daschund

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10 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Thirst

Our 10 year old daschund was recently diagnosed with anal gland cancer with a high calcium level. After a physical exam, we were told he was at Stage 4 and time would be short. We were devastated and at a loss for words. He seems perfectly normal. He plays fetch every night with my husband and his weight is fine. We've decided to visit another vet and get a second opinion. Do you think we are doing the right thing,

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Bentley

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Westipoo

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Scooting, Ribbon Like Stool

I found out yesterday that my vet felt a modular mass in the wall of the anis or rectum (not sure). He did say something about the rectum floor?!? The mass is 1 cm X .5 cm. I am taking him in for a consult on Friday. Does anyone have a positive story to share? I’m devastate and I’m looking for some hope to hold on to. So far he is acting totally fine. I did, however, notice ribbon like stool yesterday along with normal stool. Thanks!

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Molly

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Shih Tzu

dog-age-icon

13 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lump In Groin

Our soon to be 13 year old Shitzu was diagnosed with anal gland cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes and her chest cavity in February this year. She also suffers from cushion disease. We opted to not put her through surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. We wanted her to live out her life happy and comfortable. We noticed a large lump in her groin area and her not wanting to jump up on the bed and couch. She’s not holding her tail up much either the last couple of days. Can a anal gland tumor rupture? She’s been her normal happy self up until a couple days ago

Anal Gland Cancer Average Cost

From 13 quotes ranging from $400 - $8,000

Average Cost

$4,000

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