What is Tongue Cancer?
Squamous cell carcinoma is one of several types of oral cancers occurring in dogs, and is the second most common. This tongue cancer is more commonly found in dogs between six and ten years old. Several breeds are found to have a higher occurrence of squamous cell carcinoma: Keeshonds, Standard Schnauzers, Basset Hounds, and Collies. Boxers are found to develop this cancer at a lower rate than average. If you notice symptoms, it's important to schedule a physical sooner rather than later, as delaying can only lead to more pain.Squamous cell carcinoma is a malignant tongue cancer originating from the epithelium, or lining cells, of the mouth. Tongue cancer is locally invasive, has a high rate of recurrence, and often metastasizes to the lymph nodes.
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Symptoms of Tongue Cancer in Dogs
- Increased or excessive drooling
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Facial swelling
- Difficulty chewing/eating
- Bad breath, or halitosis
- Loose teeth, or teeth falling out
- Small white growth(s) on the tongue, resembling warts
Causes of Tongue Cancer in Dogs
The precise cause of squamous cell carcinoma or tongue cancer is unknown. Genetic factors and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation may play a role, but not enough is known about these factors to identify a cause. Similarly, there may be a correlation between tongue cancer and papilloma virus, or benign oral tumors, but further studies are needed.
Diagnosis of Tongue Cancer in Dogs
In order to ensure proper diagnosis, give a detailed account of your dog’s health and the onset of symptoms. Many of the symptoms of tongue cancer could be caused by ingestion of a toxic household substance or mouth injury, so be sure to report any incidents that may provide an alternate explanation. The veterinarian will perform a detailed physical, including an oral inspection of your dog’s mouth and tongue. If a tumor is found, a biopsy will be conduct in order to determine if it is benign or malignant. As a part of the physical, the veterinarian will palpate your dog’s lymph nodes to check for swelling, and will take a sample of lymph fluid in order to detect the presence of cancerous cells.
The veterinarian will also take x-rays of your dog’s head and upper body to detect if the cancer has spread, or metastasized. This will be followed by a complete blood count, a biochemistry profile and a urinalysis. The results of these tests will be used solely to discover if you dog has any other health issues that may be causing the symptoms or need to be considered during treatment; if your dog has tongue cancer and no other health problems, all results will be within the normal range.
Treatment of Tongue Cancer in Dogs
Treatment options are widely variable, depending upon how far the cancer has advanced and the locations of the tumors. If tumors are located on the front of the tongue, or limited to one side of the tongue, there is a chance they can be removed. This surgery will likely involve removing the affected portion of the tongue itself.
In more invasive cases, surgery is possible but could involve remove of portions of your dog’s jawbone in order to reach the tumors. Prognosis depends upon the metastatic rate and location of tumors. Completely curing tongue cancer is only possible when identified at the onset and all tumors can be completely removed. If all tumors cannot be removed due to size and location, radiation therapy can help inhibit tumor growth. Chemotherapy is considered a less-effective option than radiation, but may be considered in consultation with the veterinarian. In dogs whose cancer has progressed, after receiving treatment, the mean survival time is 15.8 months.
Anti-inflammatories, pain medication, and sleeping pills may be prescribed to help ease pain, and euthanasia may be considered in cases with poor prognosis and debilitating pain.
Recovery of Tongue Cancer in Dogs
Recovery and management will differ depending upon treatment options. Surprisingly, most dogs adapt well to losing part of their tongue or jaw; however, the veterinarian may require you to learn how to use a feeding tube to ensure your dog gets proper nutrition during recovery. When the veterinarian determines your dog is healthy enough to eat without the feeding tube, you will transition to easily digestible, soft foods.
In many cases, there is a high likelihood of recurrence, so be sure you are closely monitoring your dog’s recovery and keeping in close contact with the veterinarian. The veterinarian will prescribe anti-inflammatories and/or painkillers to help your pet recover from surgery or to cope with the pain otherwise. Never give your dog a higher dose of painkillers than prescribed. It’s important to keep track of each time you give your dog a dose of a painkiller in order to avoid overdose.
Tongue Cancer Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My dog was diagnosed with tongue cancer today. She is in the early stages and the vet was surprised I was able to see the lump. It is all the way in the back and in her tongue. I do not see how they can get it out because of the location. And from what I have read on this site it sounds like it will surely come back. My question is, can my dog survive this type of cancer? Has a dog survive tongue cancer in your care? I know what I need to do for her. I want to know if dogs have survived this cancer. All the reading I am doing is telling me different. I am booking a cancer specialist today. The specialist I am going to are very good in their field. Only the best for Jet. I am sure they will try and help me deal with this. I will ask the same question as I am asking you but I want to hear from different sources. All the information I am reading is not telling me if a dog can survive this horrible cancer. Thank you for your time, Danette.
My dog is not able to roll their tongue.She wants to drink water but cannot drink it.What can be problem behind this reason???
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Squamous cell carcinoma tongue,, biopsy confirmation, difficulty eating drinking,
Appetite not great, I ordered cbd for pets
Unsure of dosage, does it help for her
Condition m mu
My dog was diagnosed with cancer on her tongue today. To say the least it is truly heart breaking. Reading this information on Wag is informative but very depressing. Her lump is way in the back of her mouth and in her tongue. The vet said he could barely see it and was impressed I saw it. I notice any change in my dog. The cancer is in the beginning stage but located in a horrible area. I am taking her to a specialist and do whatever I need to do for my dog but from what I have read the odds are against us. My dog had cancer two years ago it was a tumor on the outside of her body. She had surgery and they felt they got all of it all out. This is her second time battling cancer. I would like to know if this is survivable and has anyone dog beat tongue cancer? I am open to new ideas outside of typical treatments. Like Fancy's owner I would like to hear positive results from survivors. Crying is non stop at this point. I hope that Fancy's owner found some answers.
Thank you so much
Where to buy the oil and how to give? I mean how much for a 22kg dog?
Mine just today was diagnosed but we need a second opinion as vet Couldn't answer all my concern. We don't even know the type of cancer
It is on his top and back of his tongue. According to them it didn't spread yet
Cannot stop crying
Thank you for answer
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How much financially for initial surgery for a biopsy on tumor on toungh
The cost of surgery and biopsy would vary depending on your location and the type of mass growing but generally a conservative estimate for a biopsy would be $500 - $1,000; the cost for removal maybe considerably more depending on the structures infiltrated and the type of mass. For a better estimate, it would be best to contact your local Veterinarian for an examination and quotation; especially given Sammy’s age, blood tests and other factors may increase costs. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
Poor Stella has to have part of her tongue removed next Wednesday, about 25% of it due to this terrible cancer. She had surgery 9 months ago on her tongue and they got clean margins. I think my biggest concern right now is the poor thing adapting to this change. If I was able to get an answer from her, would she even want the surgery. So torn, but would do anything I could to help her.
Wondering How Stella did! And what your total cost was. My Lucky dog has cancer of the tongue and I am so torn as to what to do.
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