What is Throat Cancer (Chondrasarcoma)?
Throat cancer is seen most often in the male canine patients of the veterinary clinic. The average age for masses in the larynx is seven, though very young dogs are more prone to tracheal cancers. Originating in skeletal cartilage, tumors of the larynx and trachea are typically found in older dogs and are of the malignant form. The danger with a lesion or growth in the throat is that your canine family member may experience breathing difficulties and there is also a chance of aspiration of food and water due to troubles with swallowing. If you see signs that your dog is having difficulty breathing, or if he is coughing or drooling excessively, a visit to the veterinarian is warranted. Surgery is most often the required treatment. Due to the rarity of this condition, documentation is low as to prognosis, though benign tumors that are fully excised have a good prognosis. It has been recorded that large breed dogs are predominantly seen with throat cancer, in particular, German Shepherds and Boxers.
Cancerous growth in the throat is a rare occurrence in canines. When the condition does appear in the larynx or the trachea and is a chondrosarcoma described neoplasm, it means that the tumor is derived from the cartilage. If a canine develops cancer in the throat the most common location is the larynx; the incidence of cancer in the trachea is much more rare. With a cancer of the throat airway obstruction is always a concern.
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Symptoms of Throat Cancer (Chondrasarcoma) in Dogs
A pet with throat cancer will exhibit signs that will definitely indicate a problem. Your dog may be having trouble breathing which can cause him to have less energy and change his personality somewhat due to a constant struggle for a normal breath.
- Noise when breathing in or out due to the presence of the growth as well as the secretions
- The noises and respiratory distress may worsen with time
- Difficulty breathing during exercise or activity and therefore, lack of desire to be active
- Gagging when consuming food
- Change in bark tone
- Loss of voice
- Blue mucus membranes
The two mass types most often seen are the laryngeal tumor which develops in connective tissue and the tracheal tumor (very rare) which can spread to regional lymph nodes.
Causes of Throat Cancer (Chondrasarcoma) in Dogs
As in the human medical world, the exact causes for cancer in animals are not known. In the case of throat cancer, the growths originate in the connective and supportive tissue and result from the uncontrolled growth of cells. Some cancers occur because of the invasion of cells from elsewhere. Chondrosarcomas can be primary, originating in bone or cartilage, or secondary and resulting from a tumor that started out as benign.
Diagnosis of Throat Cancer (Chondrasarcoma) in Dogs
When you bring your canine family member to the clinic to verify why he is having trouble breathing, the veterinarian will ask many questions as she performs the physical examination. A history of your pet’s medical state of late is now being produced and any information you can provide in regards to recent illnesses, behavioral changes, appetite, and activity will help the analysis. Tumors of the throat are not often palpable but your veterinarian may be able to feel signs of illness such as poor hair coat or weight loss.
Standard diagnostic testing to begin will be complete blood count, serum chemistry profile, and urinalysis. These are all useful tools that can often indicate that an illness is present. As the diagnostic process continues, the veterinarian will want to rule out other reasons for an airway obstruction. To do this, and to proceed with verifying if a mass is located in the throat the following methods will be used.
- Radiographs of the laryngeal and pharyngeal regions will rule out an obstruction of a foreign object for example
- Thoracic x-rays will determine if aspiration pneumonia or metastasis are secondary complications
- Laryngoscopy and tracheoscopy may be needed to look into the airway
- In some cases, biopsy of the tissue is needed
- Because the trachea is often difficult to visualise, a CT scan or MRI could be ordered
Treatment of Throat Cancer (Chondrasarcoma) in Dogs
The primary treatment for a throat cancer of the chondrosarcoma type is the excision of the growth, along with a resectioning of the area where the tumor was located. Throat function must be retained; the veterinary surgeon will discuss whether surgery is indeed an option for your furry family member, but if it is not, there may be other options like radiation therapy. The size of the tumor will be a factor in the treatment, as will whether the cancer has spread. The veterinary team will help you to make the decision that best suits your dog, while keeping his quality of life maintained as long as possible.
Recovery of Throat Cancer (Chondrasarcoma) in Dogs
Once your beloved pet has been cleared to come home from the hospital, you may do so keeping in mind that complete rest will be needed for quite some time. Provide a quiet, out of the way spot for his bedding, food and water. An area of your home where he can rest without disturbance is ideal, but he must be near enough to you that you can check on him often. The veterinarian will have prescribed pain relief and antibiotics that will need to be administered exactly per her instructions. There will also be special feeding and dietary needs that are necessary after a surgery on the throat. The veterinary team will schedule a follow-up appointment to see how your pet is recovering, but in the meantime, do not hesitate to contact the clinic with questions or concerns that you may have. Due to the rarity of throat cancer (chondrosarcoma) in dogs, there is not a lot of information recorded as to the prognosis for this type of cancer.