What is Mouth Cancer (Gingiva Sqaumous Cell Carcinoma)?
Squamous cell carcinomas are malignant growths made up of the thin flat cells that also make up the epidermis, called squamous cells. When these growths occur in the mouth it is classified as an oral squamous cell carcinoma. There are three types of oral squamous cell carcinoma defined by their location; gingiva carcinomas are on the gums and connecting tissue while lingual refers to tumors located on the tongue and tonsillar lesions form on the tonsils or surrounding tissue. This is a serious condition and prognosis is much better if when the cancer is caught before it has a chance to metastasize.
Gingiva squamous cell carcinoma is a type of squamous cell carcinomas that forms in the mouth. These malignant growths that should be addressed swiftly to prevent their spread within the body.
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Symptoms of Mouth Cancer (Gingiva Sqaumous Cell Carcinoma) in Dogs
Gingiva and other oral squamous cell carcinomas are aggressive cancers, and symptoms should prompt a call to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Blood in saliva
- Difficulty chewing and eating
- Difficulty swallowing
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Excessive drooling
- Facial swelling
- Growth or growths in mouth
- Loose teeth
- Nagging cough
- Persistent halitosis
- Unexplained weight loss
There are three forms of oral squamous cell carcinoma:
- Gingiva squamous cell carcinoma occurs in the gum tissue and is the least aggressive of the forms of oral squamous cell carcinoma in the mouth
- It has a lower metastatic rate than most squamous cell carcinomas
- Lingual squamous cell carcinomas are tumors that occur on the tongue
- Approximately 13%-29% of the lingual variety will eventually develop metastasis
- The tonsillar squamous cell carcinoma variety is the most virulent
- It is generally located on or near the tonsils and has a high rate of early metastasis
Causes of Mouth Cancer (Gingiva Sqaumous Cell Carcinoma) in Dogs
The origins of any cancer are ambiguous but there are some circumstances that may increase the likelihood of squamous cell carcinomas to develop:
- AdvanExposure to chemicals
- Genetic predisposition: Basset Hound, Beagle, Bloodhound, Briard, Bull Terrier, Dalmatian, Gordon Setter, Kerry Blue Terrier, Schnauzer, Standard Poodlle
Diagnosis of Mouth Cancer (Gingiva Sqaumous Cell Carcinoma) in Dogs
Your veterinarian is likely to start with a physical examination of the masses or lesions and will also want to get a tissue sample so that it can be more closely examined. A complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis will be obtained to reveal any underlying or concurrent diseases and depending on the size and the placement of the tumor, the veterinarian will generally take a sample of the affected tissue using either a needle aspiration or full excision technique. The sample will then be examined under a microscope, using a technique known as cytology. X-rays may also be indicated in order to detect the presence of pulmonary metastatic disease. Testing of the lymph nodes will also occur to determine if the cancer has metastasized. If the tumor was excised in order to biopsy it, the edges will be checked at this point to ensure they got the entire tumor.
Treatment of Mouth Cancer (Gingiva Sqaumous Cell Carcinoma) in Dogs
Treatment usually starts with the removal of the tumor itself as well as any extensions into surrounding tissue and bone. If the tumor is cleanly and completely removed and the cancer has not already metastasized the prognosis for this treatment is good. Squamous cell carcinomas are aggressive and fairly fast-acting so it is essential to begin treatment as soon as possible to encourage a positive outcome.If the tumor is in an inoperable location, if it is too large to remove, or if the cancer has spread, additional measures will need to be taken. This will generally include radiation therapy or chemotherapy in an attempt to slow or halt the spread of the cancer cells. Canines tend to tolerate chemotherapy better than the average human and only around 5% require hospitalization from the chemotherapy itself. There is less reported hair loss than what you would typically see with people, but some breeds (English Sheepdog, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, and Poodle) are more prone to hair loss from treatments. Other treatments that may be recommended include:
- Cryotherapy- The application of extreme cold directly to the lesion or lesions
- Photodynamic therapy- Application of a photosensitizing medication that causes the death of the cancer cells in that area
- Plesiotherapy- Topical application of a radiation source to the area affected by cancer cells
Recovery of Mouth Cancer (Gingiva Sqaumous Cell Carcinoma) in Dogs
After any excision it is imperative that the surgical site is kept clean and free from debris. You will need to keep your pet from interfering with its mouth. Regularly examine the mouth for signs of swelling, bleeding or pus, and to ensure that any stitches or dressings are intact. Specialized feeding and care instructions may be given to avoid pain and facilitate healing. Complications from chemotherapy can arise, so your veterinarian will want to do frequent checks on your dog’s liver and kidney enzyme levels. Pets are often sent home the same day after chemotherapy treatment is complete. Although most of the drug is metabolized within just a few hours, some traces can remain in the blood for a few days. It is important to use protective gloves when dealing with bodily fluids after chemotherapy and maintain good hand washing hygiene. Children, pregnant and nursing women, and immunocompromised adults should avoid contact with any bodily fluids during that time.
Mouth Cancer (Gingiva Sqaumous Cell Carcinoma) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I noticed my dogs teeth were becoming "bucked". Long story short she was just diagnosed with this. Inoperable and vet doesn't recommend chemotherapy. She's very active & has a great appetite. Is there anything we can do??? Thank you
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