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What is Intestinal Cancer (Adenocarcinoma)?

Intestinal cancer is fairly rare in dogs. When it does occur, though, intestinal tumors are normally located in the colon and rectum, though sometimes they can be found in the small intestines. Intestinal tumors can be benign or malignant, though adenocarcinomas are malignant. This means they have the potential to metastasize, or spread to other areas of the body. Most animals diagnosed with intestinal tumors are middle-aged or older, and male dogs have a higher predisposition. Certain breeds, such as Collies and German Shepherds, are more likely to develop adenocarcinoma. Possible symptoms of adenocarcinomas include weight loss, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. The most preferred treatment is surgical removal of the tumor, though chemotherapy and anti-inflammatories may be used as alternatives or in conjunction with surgery. Immediately following surgery the dog should be monitored for complication. In many cases of malignant tumors, especially where the tumor has metastasized, dogs only live for anywhere between 3 and 15 months.

Adenocarcinomas are malignant tumors found in the glandular structures in the epithelial tissue. While intestinal cancer is rare in dogs, most intestinal tumors are malignant and therefore, prognosis is not good.

Intestinal Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $2,000 - $12,000

Average Cost

$7,500

Symptoms of Intestinal Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) in Dogs

Symptoms of intestinal tumors are usually gastrointestinal signs, and in early stages they may not be distinguishable from other, less serious gastrointestinal diseases. Some of the symptoms of intestinal tumors, including adenocarcinomas, are:

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody vomit or feces
  • Ascites (build-up of fluid in the stomach, causing swelling)
  • Feces that appears black or tarry
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Tenesmus (trouble defecating)
  • Hematochezia (feces that appear maroon, resulting from blood)
  • Peritonitis (inflamed peritoneum)

Types

Most intestinal tumors are malignant, though there are some cases where they are benign, particularly in the rectum, though malignant tumors develop in this location as well. Adenocarcinomas are only one type of intestinal tumors. Others include:

  • Lymphoma – cancer of the lymph nodes
  • Leiomyosarcoma – a cancer of the connective tissues in the body
  • Extramedullary plasmacytoma – a mass of neoplastic monoclonal plasma cells in soft tissue
  • Extraskeletal osteosarcoma – rare cancer of the soft tissue
  • Mast cell tumors – cancer of a blood cell involved in the body’s response to allergens and inflammation
  • Hemangiosarcoma – cancer in the lining of the blood vessels, occurring primarily in dogs and cats
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Causes of Intestinal Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) in Dogs

As with most cancers, the cause of adenocarcinoma is not really known. Male dogs ranging between six and nine years in age are more regularly affected than females and other ages. Breed predilection includes Collies and German Shepherds. 

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Diagnosis of Intestinal Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) in Dogs

Your veterinarian may do a number of diagnostic tests to rule out other causes and determine the severity of the tumor so the best treatment option can be pursued. Some of these diagnostic tests include: 

  • Physical exam
  • Abdominal palpation
  • Abdominal X-rays
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Blood test
  • Chemistry profile
  • Laparoscopy (surgery using thin, lighted tube to evaluate abdominal organs)
  • Exploratory laparotomy (surgery involving an incision through the stomach wall to see the inside of the stomach)
  • Aspirate (drawing of fluid from the stomach using needle)
  • Endoscopy (a non-surgical procedure using a tube-like camera to obtain visuals of the digestive tract)
  • Exploratory surgery
  • Histopathology (a study of a tissue sample obtained from the tumor)
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Treatment of Intestinal Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) in Dogs

  • Surgery is the most likely course of treatment for adenocarcinomas. Full recovery is dependent on complete removal of the tumor, which is often difficult to achieve.
  • Chemotherapy may be recommended as an alternative to surgery, especially in cases where tumors have metastasized.
  • Prescription of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) for inflammation reduction. This may also kill tumor cells for carcinomas.
  • Special diets or other medications may be used depending on symptoms and accompanying conditions.
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Recovery of Intestinal Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) in Dogs

If the tumor is not completely removed, there should be careful monitoring for complications, such as dehiscence (the wound rupturing along the surgical incision) and septic abdomen (leakage of intestinal contents into the stomach) which will require emergency surgery.  Prognosis relies largely on the severity of the tumor and how much it has spread, but in most cases the prognosis is grim. Many dogs with metastatic adenocarcinomas only live around 3-15 months after treatment. 

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Intestinal Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $2,000 - $12,000

Average Cost

$7,500

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Intestinal Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Teddy

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Labradoodle

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Our dog Teddy was diagnosed with cancer in his intestines, which has spread to his kidneys and lymphoid. He was struggling to go to the bathroom for a couple of weeks and it was always liquidy and filled with blood. The vet told us that this would probably continue until he passes . We changed his diet and stopped feeding him kibble, and focused on a BARF diet with a couple of other supplements. Now his bowel movements are the best of his life. Is this normal, as we feel cautiously optimistic that he somehow is getting better. Could this also just be a positive side affect from prednisone,as he thought his colon was 80% blocked.

June 27, 2018

Teddy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

The prednisone may be reducing inflammation which in turn may be improving faecal quality; however, it is not going to change the underlying issue unfortunately. The BARF diet may also be helping with faecal quality but it is difficult to know for sure. You should keep an eye on Teddy and ensure he is comfortable and visit your Veterinarian regularly for checkups. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 28, 2018

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Zack

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Yorkshire Terrier

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

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

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating, Diarrhea,No Bowel Movem

My baby boy Zack passed away and I was advised he had bowel cancer. This came on suddenly and I don't understand why! Zack was a Yorkie and 8 years old, he was a diabetic and blind but otherwise healthy. He lost his appetite on Thursday and had diarrhea and on Saturday he was gone.

June 24, 2018

Zack's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It is always distressing when a loved one passes, especially when they seemed otherwise healthy leading up to it; some cancers can grow and only show symptoms in the later stages or is only discovered during necropsy. I never examined Zack, so I cannot say whether or not there was something which would have indicated that there was an issue. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 25, 2018

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Toby

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American Bulldog

dog-age-icon

Ten Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Lethargy
Vomiting
Rash
Personality Change
Loose Bowel Movements
Jelly-Like Stool

We have an American Bulldog that is 10 yrs old. We rescued him & he had always had some issues with anxiety and especially food allergies as he is all white. For years he has had about 1 day a week where he throws up basically just stomach acid & then he might be fine or not eat for part of the day, then he's back to normal. But in the past year or so, now when he has one of those days, he also has frequent, uncontrollable, almost liquid diarrhea that is maroon colored and is more like jelly. It has a completely different consistency & smell than his regular feces. We have to put him in diapers & sometimes just hose him off if it's bad enough. He also has a skin problem/rash & has lost hair on his underside that won't seem to go away that he won't stop munching on. We don't have a lot of money for diagnostic tests & my husband can't really work full time because Toby can't be left alone on those days. Seems like IBS or cancer. At 10, is it worth trying to figure out or should we start preparing for the end?

May 20, 2018

Toby's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

A maroon coloured jelly sounds like the consistency of raspberry jelly (or jam) which would be a characteristic symptom of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis but other symptoms don’t really fit. Infections, parasites, food sensitivity, poisoning among many other causes (including cancer) may lead to similar symptoms; it would be wise to have your Veterinarian examine Toby as they may be able to give an indication to a possible underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 21, 2018

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Fred

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pit bull terrier

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Weight Loss
Lethargy
Blood In Stool
Change In Attitude
Cant Control Bowels

Could my dog be suffering from intestinal cancer? These symptoms have been ongoing for quite some time. He was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and is on medication for that. But i fear it is something else entirely. His whole demeanor has changed and i feel horrible for him.

Feb. 23, 2018

Fred's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. I'm sorry that Fred is having these problems. I'm not sure what might be going on with him without examining him and being able to see him, but possible causes might be intestinal parasites, infectious or inflammatory bowel disease, or cancer. A visit to your veterinarian would be a good idea, as they can test his stool sample, perform a rectal exam, and recommend any other possible tests or treatments that he might need. I hope that he is okay.

Feb. 23, 2018

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Jeter

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Boston Terrier

dog-age-icon

15 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Leaking Poop
Leaking Poop Raw Bottom
Leaking Poop Raw Bottom Constapted

my 15 year old boston terrier was diagnosed with fatty tumor near his bowel area. we are struggling with the right time to let him go. He has been pooping watery poops in his bed ect. He has gone a full day with no going to the bathroom, but we put him on merlix and pretisone and the next day he had a loose stool. He is still eating and drinking and seems ok but I am worried about the poop leaking so much. Is this a sign that the tumor is to big and he can not pass stool? When is the time? Do we wait till he can not eat or drink any longer , or is he suffering now with the blockage?

Jan. 18, 2018

Jeter's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. I'm sorry that Jeter is going through this. Without seeing him, knowing how big or where the tumor is, or evaluating the rest of his physical status, I have a hard time commenting on whether he is suffering. It would be best to have him see your veterinarian, as they can assess his health, evaluate him, and let you know if they think he is suffering. I hope that he stays comfortable a while longer.

Jan. 18, 2018

Good day. is it possible that also puppies can have this kind of cancer? I have a pit bull puppy that a Dr diagnosed it without running the tests at all and he even wants to put it down, this makes me sad because my boy is not even 6 moths old and now THIS. WHAT CAN ONE DO NOW?

Jan. 23, 2018

Nanku

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Jellybean

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British Bulldog

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vomitting, Weight Loss,Diarrhea

My 6 year old British Bulldog has just had surgery to remove an adenocarcinoma in her small intestine my vet said it was all removed and it hadn`t spread locally.I am waiting on a specialist to tell us if this sort of cancer would spread in other organs what would you say her Prognosis was. Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/condition/intestinal-cancer-adenocarcinoma

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Vasco

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Portuguese Water Dog

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Diarrhea, Loss Of Muscle Mass

We have a 8 year old PWD that was diagnosed by FNA and I was wondering if they can ever get cancer cells confused with bacteria or fungis during the FNA. Our dog started going downhill (losing weight , muscle mass, etc ) after he got into our food bin in late or mid september so this just seems like a cause and reaction and maybe we are just holding onto hope.

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Lovie

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Boxer

dog-age-icon

9 Months

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Walking Stiffly. Constipation,

My Lovie is a 9 year old male boxer. He had a Grade 3 mast cell tumor removed from his backside below his anus. My vet examined him in June when I first noticed the mass. He took a scraping and examined it under a microscope. He thought it was a histocytoma. He advised me to watch it for 7 weeks to see if it went away if not he could remove it. It grew rapidly and in 5 weeks I took him back to have it removed. The biopsy results came back as a grade 3 mast cell tumor. After surgery, I noticed that Lovie was walking stiff legged. I thought it was arthritis in his hips or because the skin on his backside had to be stretched to close the incision from the tumor. He healed up well and was doing great. On Friday he was playing with my one year old female boxer. Running and wrestling. On Saturday, I noticed he was straining to move his bowels and his stool was like small pebbles. I gave him a stool softener and started feeding him ground beef and rice. His stool became softer but he was straining more. I took him to my vet on Wednesday and the vet did a rectal exam and said that Lovie had a large tumor in his colon. He said to remove the tumor, he would have to remove the entire colon and Lovie would have a colostomy. He did not recommend it. I wouldn't even consider it. So he kept Lovie and started an oral chemo drug (Palladia). He said that you usually see results in 24-48 hours if the chemo is going to work to shrink the tumor. He gave him a dose Wednesday and Friday but had not seen any change in the size of the tumor. I picked Lovie up Friday afternoon with instructions to give him another dose of chemo and on Sunday and Prednisone on Saturday. I was to take him back to the vet on Monday to recheck the tumor. By Monday, the tumor had shrunk about 75 percent. I continued to give the chemo Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with Prednisone all other days. Lovie was having almost normal bowel movements. He was eating and drinking but no longer playing like he had been. The chemo had to be stopped after two weeks because his white blood cell count was low (5.4). I took him back to the vet to recheck his white blood cell count yesterday and it was only up to 5.75. so the chemo is being held for another week. I take him back again next Monday to recheck it. He is still moving his bowels but it is taking longer. He is straining more. He doesn't seem to be in pain. I take him for multiple walks each day. I love him so much. I can't imagine having to euthanize him. I don't want to see him suffer. He has been such a faithful loving companion. He is my best friend. I wish that I had removed the tumor when I first noticed it. I wish that I would have known that he was walking stiffly because the tumor in his bowels. I'm not sure if I should continue the chemo next week if his white blood cell count is normal next week. The vet said that it won't cure the cancer. It will just buy him more time.

Intestinal Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $2,000 - $12,000

Average Cost

$7,500

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