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What is Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the Urinary Tract?

Certain breeds are more often affected by transitional cell carcinoma, such as Wirehaired Fox Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, Scottish Terriers, Beagles, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Airedale Terriers. The most common place that transitional cell carcinoma originates is the area that the urinary tract system is the most complex, where the ureters and urethra meet the bladder. This is why one of the most frequently seen symptoms are difficulty urinating. In males, this condition commonly spreads to the prostate. In cases when the cancer spreads, your dog has a smaller chance of successful recovery.

Transitional cell carcinoma of the urinary tract is an invasive and rapidly spreading cancer that is common in dogs. In fact, transitional cell carcinoma is the most common bladder cancer in dogs. This kind of cancer starts in the epithelium (similar to many others), which is one of four tissues that make up a dog’s body along with muscle, nerves, and connective tissues. Transitional epithelium is part of what makes up the lining of the urinary tract system (bladder, urethra, ureters, kidney, prostate, and vagina), which can be primary or secondary. Primary transitional cell carcinoma is cancer that starts out in the urinary tract and secondary transitional cell carcinoma is cancer that spreads from somewhere else in the body.

Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the Urinary Tract Average Cost

From 29 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $18,000

Average Cost

$11,000

Symptoms of Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the Urinary Tract in Dogs

Straining to urinate is the number one most often seen symptoms in transitional cell carcinoma. Other symptoms include:

  • Excessive urination
  • Urinary incontinence (inability to control urination)
  • Bloody urine
  • Licking of the penis or vulva
  • Appetite loss
  • Inflammation of the penis or vulva
  • Vomiting
  • Painful abdomen
  • Hiding
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Difficulty sitting and walking
  • Walking back and forth
  • Constipation
  • Anorexia
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Seizures
  • Uncontrollable diarrhea and vomiting
  • Sudden collapse
  • Profuse bleeding from anywhere
  • Whining or crying

 Types

  • Primary transitional cell carcinoma is cancer that starts in your dog’s urinary tract system
  • Secondary transitional cell carcinoma is cancer that started somewhere else in your dog’s body
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Causes of Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the Urinary Tract in Dogs

Dogs that have transitional cell carcinoma have a thicker urinary bladder wall than other dogs, and there are almost always (98.9%) papillary lesions visible. Other causes are:

  • Breed predisposition - Scottish Terriers (most commonly affected), Wirehaired Fox Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, Beagles, Shetland Sheepdogs, Airedale Terriers, mixed breed dogs
  • Female dogs are 50% more commonly diagnosed with bladder transitional cell carcinoma. The reason for this may be that male dogs tend to urinate more often than females, meaning your dog has an increased time exposed to the cancer cells
  • Obesity
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Diagnosis of Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the Urinary Tract in Dogs

It is common for transitional cell carcinoma to be found by your veterinarian during a routine examination, in which case the prognosis is usually much better than what it would be if the cancer is not found until symptoms are visible. For this reason, taking your dog to be examined at least once per year is essential, such as with most diseases. The sooner it is found, the better the chance for survival. Your veterinarian will do a comprehensive physical examination, which may include weight, height, body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Some of the tests that may need to be done are a urinalysis, CBC (complete blood count), blood chemistry panel, urinalysis, and several images done with x-rays, MRI, ultrasound, and CT scan. A sample of the tumor(s) for microscopic evaluation can be done with a fine needle biopsy by inserting a thin needle into the tumor or the lymph nodes. The veterinarian may also need to get a larger sample for biopsy, which he can take with surgery if necessary. A test called a cystourethrogram is also performed to determine the severity of the disease. In this test, your dog will get radiologic images while urinating by inserting a tiny flexible tube (urinary catheter) to inject dye while x-rays are taken. This test can show the veterinarian how well your dog can urinate and if there are any blockages.

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Treatment of Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the Urinary Tract in Dogs

The best treatment for transitional cell carcinoma is to remove the tumor and any questionable tissue and lymph nodes in the area of the cancer. The problem with this is the placement of the tumor, which is usually in the neck of the bladder where it is harder to get at. Even with a skilled surgeon it is sometimes just not possible to remove all of the tumor. This surgery is usually done with an endoscopic laser guided by ultrasound, but this is not often successful. As a matter of fact, the cancer returns in almost all cases, so even if the surgeon believes he got the whole tumor, the average length of survival is less than six months. Many veterinarians get better results by removing all or a portion of the bladder, but survival rates are similarly lower in this case. Sometimes, chemotherapy combined with surgery can get better results, although the rate of survival is still not long.

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Recovery of Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the Urinary Tract in Dogs

Since transitional cell carcinoma is a fatal disease with no cure, many pet owners decide to just make their dog comfortable with the time he has left. If your dog is obviously in extreme pain, euthanasia may be the only answer to relieve his suffering. Your veterinarian can give you suggestions, but you are the only one who knows what is best for your dog and for you.

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Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the Urinary Tract Average Cost

From 29 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $18,000

Average Cost

$11,000

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Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the Urinary Tract Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Sophia

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Italian Greyhound

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12 Days

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Upset Stomach

12 year old Italian Greyhound. Diagnosed with cushings, graves, thyroid and now TCC. Diabetes was under control until this week. Has had 3 seizures. Not sure why. She was put on Piroxicam 10 days ago but is having a hard time tolerating. Throws up and doesn't want to eat after 2 days on med. Gave her a day break then started again. 2 days then sick again. So we took her off it for now. Had seizures on days that food intake was good. Only symptom of TCC is slight blood in urine. Not sure if I should try Piroxicam again. Feeling very frustrated. I don't her to suffer. :(

May 14, 2018

Sophia's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

You should discuss this with your Veterinarian (they are the prescribing Veterinarian) as it is important to continue with the piroxicam, so after an examination they may discuss some changes to the medication or may give you something to help settle the stomach or an antiemetic. Vomiting is a common side effect of many medications, but may be managed in some cases. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 15, 2018

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Daisy

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Beagle

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine
Incontinence
Straining To Urinate

12 year old Beagle, diagnosed with TCC 3 months ago, symptoms present for 6 months. Been on piroxicam since diagnosis. Has struggled to pee, had blood drops in urine and slightly more frequent accidents the whole time - however all symptoms have intensified over the last week. Multiple accidents in the past few days, with more blood volume than had previously seen (still just drops, but more), and noticeably longer straining. She still has her appetite, a normal amount of energy and no obvious signs of distress when not urinating - however the intensifying of the symptoms has me concerned that I might not recognize that she's suffering. Is tracking her appetite and energy enough or are there other symptoms I should look for?

March 14, 2018

Daisy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. One thing that might be a good idea to have done is an ultrasound of her bladder, just to see the status of the tumor, how much it has grown, and how much it might be affecting her life. It is important to monitor her quality of life, and that may be one step in doing that. I hope that she remains comfortable for a while longer.

March 14, 2018

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Abby

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West highland terrier

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10

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine
Frequent Urination
Straining To Urinate
Urinating In House

We took our 10-year-old westie Abby into an emergency vet about two weeks ago because of blood in her urine. We left with a diagnoses of a UTI and a prescription for antibiotics that seemed to clear everything up. After Abby finished the course of antibiotics, though, the blood in her urine returned. Today, we returned to the same emergency animal hospital and, after looking at her blood work and feeling a hardness around the bladder area, they temporarily diagnosed her with TCC. We are waiting to get in with an oncologist in the coming week. As of now, Abby is back on antibiotics and an anti anxiety medication that the vet says will calm the part of her brain that makes her feel like she has to urinate frequently. Sometimes it appears her urinating results in only blood. What can we do to make sure she is comfortable? Is there any other possible explanation besides TCC for her symptoms? If she does have TCC, what is your prognosis? She is so young :(

Nov. 24, 2017

Abby's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

In these cases, the presence of blood may be attributable to a few different causes including infections, urinary stones, tumours, poisoning, reproductive tract issues among other causes; if a mass was palpated around the bladder area then a transitional cell carcinoma may be present. If the diagnosis is confirmed as transitional cell carcinoma, then piroxicam may be given which has shown good results with this cancer; surgical excision may be another option but becomes tricky if the tumour is near the neck of the bladder. I would wait to see the Oncologist next week before making any decisions. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Nov. 24, 2017

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Mattie

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Lhasa Apso

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13 y/o

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My Lhasa Apso has TCC of the bladder, she is 13 y/o. She is receiving chemo and we have tried to use Piroxicam but she is unable to tolerate it. She of course has blood in her urine and frequency and her appetite is poor. She seems to be constipated and was restless tonight as well as shaking. I gave her Tramadol 50 mg. What should I do to help her and make her more comfortable? I also gave her milk of magnesia earlier today. But no results.

Nov. 19, 2017

Mattie's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Piroxicam in the medical treatment of choice for cases of transitional cell carcinoma, at this point making sure that she is comfortable, hydrated and eating are the most important things. The constipation may be able to be improved by giving her some plain canned pumpkin which may help loosen the stool due to the increased fibre content; surgical options may not be viable due to age or position of the tumour. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Nov. 19, 2017

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Beau

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Boxer/American bulldog

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12

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Recently Occasional Nausea And Diarrhea ,Exhau

My dog has been diagnosed with transitional cell carsinoma recently but has been having many of the symptoms for sometime.he has been having problems peeing for 2-3 months now and has been bleeding from his urinary area for 2-3 weeks now.he is approx 12 yrs (rescue) boxer/American bulldog mix.we have him on anti inflammatory but don't think doing chemo would be beneficial to him.your thoughts ?

Aug. 30, 2017

Beau's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Transitional cell carcinoma is a malignant tumour of the urinary tract which generally carries a prognosis due to the invasive nature of the cancer and the inoperability due to it’s location usually on the urinary bladder. Chemotherapy, whilst not curative, can be beneficial to dogs with transitional cell carcinoma by increasing their overall survival time. Each case is different and it would be best to discuss your options with your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 30, 2017

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Buddy

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Jack Russell Foxie cross

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine

Hi , my 10 year old desexed male Jack Russell Foxie cross, had surgery almost 4 weeks ago, for what our local vet thought was a bladder stone. He had symptoms of blood in his urine for a few months and was treated for a bladder infection , and then after a x-ray the vet decided to have a look at his bladder. On the day of the surgery, she rang me and said that it wasn't what she thought it would be ,things looked bad , it was a tumor. She told me that there was nothing she could do , and we would eventually have to put him to sleep. I was just devastated ,how could this be happening to my sweet little Angel ,she also said that she couldn't remove the tumor, and she couldn't even take a biopsy to confirm if it is cancer .What is so hard for me is the not knowing what we are dealing with .I don't know what to do to help my little one ,the thought of losing him is unbearable, he is all I have .I was told the main thing is to make sure he does not get a blockage with his urine .At the moment, he seems to be okay, eating ,and drinking ,and wanting to go for his walks ,but it's the blood when he pees that upsets me the most.She also told me on the day of his surgery, she took another x-ray to see if the tumor had spread ,but lucky it hadn't thank God .I am hoping that you might be able to advise me what to do ,I am only on a pension, and I don't have a lot of money ,but I try to give my little boy the very best that I can .

Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the Urinary Tract Average Cost

From 29 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $18,000

Average Cost

$11,000

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