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What is Nerve Sheath Tumor?

Nerve Sheath Tumor in Dogs is an abnormal growth or mass of the skin and soft tissue. The tumor is comprised of Schwann cells that are found in connective tissue known as the myelin, or cover, that surrounds the nerve. Myelin acts as insulation and a conduit for the transmission of nerve signals. Nerve sheath tumors are firm, white nodules beneath the skin that can be attached to peripheral as well as central nerve tissue. The tumors can remain unseen and will effect any location in the nervous system.

Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are the reference for malignant tumors arising from peripheral nerves. This includes tumors that may be displaying differentiation along the lines of various elements of the nerve sheath. Including, Schwann cell, perineural cell, and fibroblast.

Nerve Sheath Tumor Average Cost

From 105 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $15,000

Average Cost

$6,500

Symptoms of Nerve Sheath Tumor in Dogs

Symptoms tend to be site-specific and include the following:

  • Ataxia (lack of muscle control)
  • Atrophy
  • Difficulty walking
  • Horner’s Syndrome (drooping eye due to compression on ocular nerves)
  • Limb weakness
  • Pain
  • Swelling
Types

There are two main types of nerve sheath tumors: neurofibromas/Schwannomas and neurofibrosarcomas/malignant Schwannomas.

  • Neurofibromas/Schwannomas are benign (non-cancerous)
  • Neurofibrosarcomas/malignant Schwannomas are malignant (cancerous)

Both types need to be evaluated and removed surgically to decrease discomfort and the likelihood of the tumor to develop further or increase in size. Generally, this type of tumor does not metastasize (spread to other locations throughout the body). The malignant tumors are characterized by having the potential to become invasive and grow rapidly.

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Causes of Nerve Sheath Tumor in Dogs

There is no publicly disclosed cause at this time. The average age of onset for most breeds is 9. There is a higher chance of the following breeds to be affected:

  • 16% Golden Retriever
  • 12% mixed breeds
  • 10% Labrador Retriever
  • 9% Boxer
  • 6% Collie
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Diagnosis of Nerve Sheath Tumor in Dogs

Diagnosis can be performed by the veterinarian in a manner of different ways. Tissue biopsy, either by removing a small portion surgically, or aspiring a sample with a needle is the main mode of discovery. The veterinarian may also choose to perform a CT scan and/or X-Ray to help determine if the tumor has become invasive. Depending on how long the dog has shown symptoms and how severe they are, the veterinarian will decide at that time how many tests need to be performed. Once it is determined if the tumor is benign or malignant, excision of the affected tissue will be performed.

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Treatment of Nerve Sheath Tumor in Dogs

Surgery

All tumors will be removed whether they are benign or malignant. Advantages to removing a tumor that is benign are that the tissue can be further tested to determine what cells it was made up of, and the dog will be more comfortable without the added pressure of the extra tissue. Benign tumors will also be sent for more in-depth histological testing. It is important for the veterinarian to try to remove all of the involved tissue, as even a small amount left behind can re-grow into another tumor that will need further attention.

Radiation Therapy

If the tumor was found to be malignant, radiation therapy is a possible treatment the veterinarian may suggest. This therapy works by stopping the division of cells at the site of the tumor to deter further growth. The treatments last 3-4 weeks. Due to technological advances over the years, most dogs do very well with this procedure, and it has a real success rate in deterring the growth of future tumors. Side effects are minimal and may include temporary or permanent hair loss at the site of treatment.

Chemotherapy

The veterinarian may decide your dog would also benefit from chemotherapy treatment to increase the likelihood of cancer-free time. Chemotherapy is a chemical agent that stops cells from dividing as well. Unlike radiation, which is centered directly at the site of the cancer, chemotherapy treats the entire body. The administration methods include subcutaneous, (under the skin) intramuscular, intravenous, or oral. Dogs respond very well to chemotherapy and have little to no side effects.

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Recovery of Nerve Sheath Tumor in Dogs

If your dog’s tumor was benign, the recovery and management is quite like that of any other daily routine with your dog. All steps should be taken to make sure your pet is safe and comfortable after surgery by adhering to any take-home outpatient instructions. It will be critical of you (the owner) to continue to monitor the site for proper healing and any signs of a returned tumor. If your dog’s tumor was malignant, the above instructions apply, as well as making sure all of the follow-up treatment appointments are met. Proper nutrition is extra important at this time to make sure all surgical wounds heal well, and your dog has the vitamins and minerals needed to regain and maintain their strength. If the surgical site becomes red, swollen, painful, or shows signs of infection or tumor regrowth, it is imperative to return to the veterinarian for further evaluation.

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Cost of Nerve Sheath Tumor in Dogs

The best form of treatment is to remove all the tumors regardless of whether or not they are benign or malignant. This, of course, means that surgery is required. This surgery can cost $1,500 or more depending on the severity of your dog’s condition. However, once all of the tumors are removed your dog will be much more comfortable. If the tumors have remained localized and are determined to be malignant then the veterinarian will most likely want to administer radiation therapy. Your dog’s hair may fall out at the radiation site as a side effect. Radiation therapy generally costs between $2,000 and $7,000. Unfortunately, if the tumors have begun to spread to other parts of the body then the veterinarian will recommend chemotherapy. Chemotherapy treats the whole body rather than a localized point. This is an option with little to no side effects for your dog and can be administered in a variety of ways.

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Nerve Sheath Tumor Average Cost

From 105 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $15,000

Average Cost

$6,500

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Nerve Sheath Tumor Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Brody

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Boxer doberman

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Muscle Atrophy

Last month we surely noticed that the left side of our dog Brody’s face had caved in. The muscles were no longer there and the bones of his skull were prominent. After an MRI a small mass was found on the trigeminal nerve. It is an inoperable location so whether or not it is benign, is unknown. We tried prednisone for a month to rule out inflammation, but at our recheck it seems the prednisone has not made any improvements. The neurologist believes it to be a nerve sheath tumor and recommend radiation. Brody is such a young and active dog we are really hoping for his success rate after radiation to be high, especially with the hope that it is not malignant.

Aug. 26, 2018

Brody's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Without examining Brody I cannot weigh in with my opinion, however you should consult with an Oncologist about the suspected tumour and get their input on what the cause may be; surgery is the treatment of choice but not always feasible in all cases. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9527425

Aug. 26, 2018

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sade

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Shih Tzu

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19 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Firm Lump On Left Lower Hind Leg,

my 19 yr old shih tzu was diagnosed with this tumor on her left hind leg near her paw. she also has high blood pressure and takes viagra to control this. also there is slight enlargement of heart. my vet said the treatment is to debulk it. currently it is not very large and does not interfere with her walks. She functions well, still plays, loss of hearing and has cataracts. I do not want her to undergo anesthesia and surgery, due to her age and i don't want her to be confused and in pain. am i doing the best for her?

July 8, 2018

sade's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

These decisions are never easy and you should take the course of action your most comfortable with; surgical debulking at Sade’s age may be overall unrewarding when factoring in recovery etc… but depends on various factors. You should focus on keeping her comfortable and discussing with your Veterinarian about pain management, without examining her I cannot weigh in on whether she is in pain or not. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 9, 2018

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Alfie

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Wheezy Out Of Breath

My nearly 6 year old staff had he front leg removed on 21st of Feb after losing muscle due to nerve cancer 2days ago a large hard swelling appeared where his stump is he also wheezing when moving around and get out of breath quickly he not interested in walks and only eats when hand fed can a tumour that size larger than a tennis ball appear so quickly x

May 2, 2018

Alfie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Some cancers can come back, quite aggressively, and some can spread to the lungs, sadly. Since he has this history, it would be a good idea to have him rechecked by your veterinarian to see if there is treatment for him that might help get his appetite back and help with his energy levels. I'm sorry that that is happening to Alfie.

May 2, 2018

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Charlee J

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Lab/poodle/shih tzu

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Muscle Atrophy
Panting
Limb Lameness

My 6 year old lab/poodle/shih Tzu mix was diagnosed with a nerve sheath tumor in October of last year. When I asked if it was cancer, the vet said yes so I'm assuming hers is malignant. He also said that there are tumors in her lungs as well. She doesn't even use the left front leg at all anymore. just hops on her other front leg. Still plays, eats, and is my happy baby. But you can tell she's uncomfortable and recently she's began to breathe heavier after going outside and climbing up the 20 stairs to my bedroom. It's not constant but it lasts for about 5-10 mins then she falls asleep. I'm just wondering if there's any other sort of treatment for her? She is on Tramadol and Previcox for the pain and I also just started CBD dog treats for her. I cannot bear the thought of putting her down. but I don't want to wait until it's too late and she just stops living. What do I do?

March 21, 2018

Charlee J's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It is difficult to recommend what you should do as I am unable to examine Charlee J, but it seems like you are not happy with her quality of life and are considering the final journey to your Veterinarian; this is a decision for you to make. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 21, 2018

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Laycee

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Labrador Retriever

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6 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

My 6 yr old yellow lab was just diagnosed with a nerve sheath tumor on her front leg. We have not done an MRI or CT due to the costs. She has muscle loss on the leg and is limping. We have already spent $1800 on visits, x-rays and medication. If we do nothing what is the expected life span? She has been like this for 4mths now.

March 19, 2018

Laycee'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 that is happening to Laycee. It is often dfficult to determine what the progression of a nerve sheath tumor is going to be, as they can affect each dog individually. They can become quite painful, and without any treatment, quality of life is often the reason that you may have to make a difficult decision for her. It will be important to monitor her pain levels and make sure that she is comfortable for as long as possible. Your veterinarian will be able to help guide you in this process. I hope that she is okay.

March 19, 2018

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Siena

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Leonberger

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5 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Neck Pain

Our 5 year old Leonberger Siena was just yesterday diagnosed with PNST. The MRI shows a swelling of the nerve going into her front right leg. Siena is full of life and has been very active until we noticed her holding her front leg differently about two months ago and beginning to limp after exercise. We were told yesterday that she will only be with us for another 12 to 18 months. Obviously, as with everyone else, this is devastating. All her other exams from yesterday apart from what seems to be ‘subtle’ thoracic and neck pain came The conclusion is C6/7 intervertebral disc disease. We’re prepared to try anything, as long as it’s good for her. They are suggesting Stereotactic Radiation Treatment. (SRT) Does anyone know about this SRT? Also, what should we expect in terms of the degenerative nature of this disease over the remainder of Siena’s life? It’s heartbreaking to consider this but it’s better to know, so we can make everything as happy and comfortable. Thank you in advance for any help and advice you can give.

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Catti

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Azawakh

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21 Months

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

2 Masses

All the stories I read are talking about dogs and "quality of life" questions because they are older. My little girl is only 21 months old and had two masses removed,one right by the other in her forelimb, believed to be Nerve Sheath Tumors. No pain, limping or atrophy. We are waiting on Histopathology report. Are there any reports on dogs this young having this or Spindle Cell Sarcoma?

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Ginger

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Golden Retriever

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Nerve Sheath Tumor

My 12 year old golden retriever has a spindle cell nerve sheath tumor on her upper palate. A CT scan showed it was not invasive and rested on top of her bones. We had a surgeon remove as much as possible but did not remove her palate. The radiation oncologist recommended a 15 day course of treatment but our local vet was not sure that was the appropriate treatment given her age. We are concerned for her comfort level. Right now she is not in pain and takes rimadyl for her hips. Do you have any advice? Thank you

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Jedi

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Labrador Retriever

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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4 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Knuckling

Our Lab had an MRI after we noticed him dragging his toe nails when walking and then Knuckling when standing (occasionally). The MRI showed he had a peripheral nerve sheth tumor against right side of his spine. (Not surrounding spine) Our worst prognosis as neurologist suspected a herniated disc. He gives Jedi 3-6 months worst case but says surgery not an option. Is this the case? I have read surgey could be an option as is radiation theropy. They prescribed prednisone to slow growth of tumor. Any other treatments? I cant image there is no other options. Help!

Nerve Sheath Tumor Average Cost

From 105 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $15,000

Average Cost

$6,500

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