What is Mesothelioma?
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Symptoms of Mesothelioma in Dogs
Growth of internal tumors and effusion caused by fluid releasing from the tumor result in pressure on other organs, often resulting in cardiac distress and/or gastrointestinal symptoms, which can include:
- Cough, rapid breathing
- Respiratory distress
- Decrease in or loss of appetite
- Difficulty moving
- Hematuria (blood in urine)
- Hematochezia (bloody diarrhea)
- Enlarged abdomen and/or scrotum
- Excess fluid retention
- Heart failure
- Muffled heartbeat or breathing sounds
Mesothelioma can develop in three types:
- Epitheliod - which is the most common and most easily treatable
- Sacromatoid - which is less common, quicker to spread, and harder to treat
- Biphasic - which is a combination is epitheliod and sacromatoid
Mesothelioma is also distinguished by the site of tumor development, the four most common sites of tumor development being:
- Pleural, or occurring in the lungs
- Peritoneal, or occurring in the abdominal cavity
- Pericardial, or occurring in the heart
- Tunica Vaginalis, or occurring in the testis
Causes of Mesothelioma in Dogs
Environmental exposure to asbestos, iron, silicate, and pesticides is the cause of canine mesothelioma. Dogs that inhale, lick, or otherwise ingest large amounts of asbestos, iron, silicate, or pesticides or who are subject to long-term exposure are at the highest risk. However, owners of dogs diagnosed with mesothelioma cannot always confirm contact with any of these substances. In addition to the German Shepherd, Irish Setter and Bouvier des Flandres breeds carry a greater risk.
Diagnosis of Mesothelioma in Dogs
The symptoms of mesothelioma are varied and overlap significantly with other medical issues. However, if your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, consult or visit an veterinarian immediately.
If the veterinarian has any suspicion of mesothelioma, a comprehensive suite of tests will be conducted. These include a blood sample which will be analyzed for a complete blood count, which checks for abnormalities in red and white blood cell count as well as platelet and hemoglobin; and a chemical blood profile, which isolates the liquid from the blood cells to enable analysis of the liquid to measure blood sugar, blood proteins, and electrolytes. Additionally, your veterinarian will conduct urinalysis in order to evaluate your dog’s kidney function. These tests can distinguish between mesothelioma and other possible diseases.
Upon initial suspicion of mesothelioma, x-rays of the chest and abdomen will be examined for abnormalities. Upon the discovery of abnormalities in the x-ray, ultrasounds and radiograph images will be taken to view tumors and fluid irregularities.
Once the presence of tumors is confirmed, the veterinarian will take fluid samples for examination and remove infected tissue to perform a biopsy for full diagnosis.
Treatment of Mesothelioma in Dogs
Mesothelioma in dogs can usually be treated; however, it progresses rapidly. For this reason, it is important to identify as early as possible in order to increase chance of survival. The treatment you choose depends upon your access to a specialist, the severity of your dog’s prognosis, your finances, and your dog’s quality of life.Draining Fluid
Fluid built up in cavities will be drained periodically to relieve pressure. This may or may not require surgery, but will certainly require follow up visits to monitor the affected cavity through x-rays. Draining of fluid poses no risk of side affects, but only addresses the symptoms of mesothelioma, not the disease itself.
While draining fluid cannot cure mesothelioma, it can improve and extend your dog’s life.Chemotherapy
Intracavitary chemotherapy is the most recommended treatment, and involves injecting chemotherapy directly into the affected body cavity. Chemotherapy can also be delivered through pills, but direct injection provides a more targeted dosage and is associated with less risk to healthy cells.
Treatment duration and side effects vary depending upon the severity of your dog’s case. Protocol will likely include a series of treatments followed by an observation period. Side effects include gastrointestinal distress, lowered white blood cell count, and kidney damage or failure.
Chemotherapy treatment of mesothelioma is an option to be discussed at length with your specialist in order to determine recovery, remission and relapse rates, as these vary significantly depending upon the individual case.
Recovery of Mesothelioma in Dogs
Any treatment option that you choose requires frequent follow-up appointments with your veterinarian or specialist in order to monitor recovery progress, reaccumulation of fluid, remission, recovery, and overall health and comfort of your dog. In between visits, keep a close eye on your dog for changes in behavior or re-emergence of symptoms.
Consult your veterinarian or specialist about dietary changes that may be necessary. Particularly if your dog is in chemotherapy, in which case you may consider feeding a soft, bland diet and supplementing with anti-nausea or anti-diarrheal medication.
No matter your treatment choice, adapt to your dog’s state by making playtime and exercise gentle, making the daily routine comfortable (confining to a single story to avoid stairs, etc.), and providing a quiet space to rest.
Mesothelioma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
We had a 10 year old schnauzer that went her usual active self to becoming tachypneic and not as energetic,within 4 days she developed diaphragmic breathing and signs of animation her to the vet they did a pluralcentisis removed approx 250cc.s of serosangnous fluid did a quick ultrasound she had multiple nodules one the liver,her on duty did a cardiac echo but really couldn't read them the labs came back with mesothelioma like cells in the pleural fluid don't believe they did a necropsy.we have our yard sprayed monthly by pest control and font let dogs out for at least an hour,could that be a causative factor or as reading above it can be an internal cause. I've worked in human medicine for over 30 years and there are small differences but enough family how often if ever can keep originate in the liver or was that metastasis?
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My Frenchie was just diagnosed with mesothelioma after rushing him to a 24 hr ER. His chest cavity was drained and then a CT scan was done indicating the tow front lobes in both lungs have collapsed. I don’t know if he should be put down immediately or continue to drain his chest cavity and give him relief?
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My Cairn terrier has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. I adopted her about 3 years ago and she is now 14. A specialist has drained fluid from around her heart to give her some relief. Since I don't know where she lived before adoption I have no way of knowing where she was exposed to asbestos or pesticides. Should I be concerned about asbestos in my home? She is always licking the floors which are wood and ceramic tile. Could she have developed the disease in the 3 years I've had her?
I do not have much data for animals, but the latency period for dogs with mesothelioma is less than eight years so it is possible that Booie was exposed prior to joining your family. I should note that asbestos is one cause of mesothelioma, but asbestos has been attributable to many cases. The latency period in humans is ten to fifty years. I’ve included a link on the subject below. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
My yorkie died one week ago due to a Mesothelial hyperplasia and marked acute and mild chronic hemorrhage . I adopted him 8 years ago, he was 6 when I adopted him. he was 14 years old. I am worry because a friend told me that maybe my house is expose to ASBESTOS? I feel very sad because I lost a member of my family but I don't understand why he died in two days, he got sick Sunday and died Tuesday morning. Very sad!!! Can you please explain what it means mesothelial hyperplasia???
My dog had all these symptoms but she was 1 year and 8 months old. She never had contact with asbestos. I took her to the vet and she said that she did not have anything else to do because the mesenteric was already taken.
I wonder if this neoplasm can be genetic or just environmental?
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