What is Lumpectomy?
A lumpectomy in your dog is a surgical procedure to remove an abnormal growth on or below the skin surface, or attached to an organ wall. A physical examination, tests, and biopsy may be conducted prior to a lumpectomy to determine the nature of the lump, the cells involved, and whether the lump is benign or malignant. Samples of the lump are usually sent for analysis at the time of lumpectomy whether or not biopsy was conducted prior to the procedure to confirm diagnosis and establish tissue margins. A benign tumor may be treated with lumpectomy alone, malignant tumors may require additional treatment to ensure abnormal growths do not spread to other tissues. A lumpectomy will involve removal of the abnormal growth and some of the healthy tissue surrounding it to ensure that the abnormal cells do not spread to surrounding tissues. Small lumpectomies at the skin surface may be performed under local anesthetic by your veterinarian but most lumpectomies are performed under general anesthesia.
Lumpectomy Procedure in Dogs
If the lumpectomy is being performed at the surface of the skin on a small lump, local anesthetic may be used for the procedure. Your dog will be administered local anesthetic and the lump and tissue surrounding it will be removed with a scalpel or surgical tool specialized for the removal of skin lumps.
If general anesthetic is required, prior to lumpectomy, you will be asked to fast your dog from food for 12 hours. Water can be provided to prevent dehydration. Your veterinarian will provide you with specific instructions. General anesthesia will be administered and the site around the lump to be removed, or the area where an incision is required to access the lump, will be clipped to remove hair and cleaned antiseptically to prevent contamination of the surgical wound.
If the lump is located internally, an incision will be made and the internal organ and lump isolated. The lump is excised with a scalpel along with surrounding tissue is removed with the lump, to ensure spread of abnormal cells to healthy tissue does not occur.
Blood vessels to the lump and tissue being removed is cauterized, or tied off to control bleeding. If a large area of tissue is removed, reconstructive procedures may be required to close the gap, involving filling the area with tissue harvested from other areas of your dog’s body. Lump and tissue removed will be preserved in formalin and will be sent for analysis to ensure that healthy margins were obtained around the lump removed, and to assess the type of cells present. If malignant cells are present, chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be recommended in addition to the lumpectomy.
Incisions on organs or tissues under the skin are closed with absorbable sutures in the underlying tissues, and the outer layer of skin may be closed with surgical staples or standard sutures. A bandage or dressing to cover the surgical wound may be applied. If a large area was excised, a drain may be left in place to allow fluid buildup in the area to drain post-surgery.
The entire procedure usually takes anywhere from 15 minutes, for minor lumpectomies on or near the skin surface, to one hour for internal lumps, depending on the location of the lump and amount of tissue and reconstruction required.
Hospitalization will depend on the dog's overall health and any illness they are experiencing from presence of the lump or other diseases.
Efficacy of Lumpectomy in Dogs
The results of a lumpectomy depend on whether the abnormal cell growths are malignant and invasive and whether spread to other tissues has occurred. For non-invasive benign lumps, lumpectomy usually resolves the condition, although lumps can recur. For invasive, malignant, lumps, outcome is more varied and lumpectomy may require a surgery combined with chemotherapy or radiation therapy to control abnormal cell growth. In these cases, prognosis is more guarded.
Lumpectomy Recovery in Dogs
Following lumpectomy, your dog may be prescribed pain medication or antibiotics. These should be administered as directed by your veterinarian. It is important to ensure your dog does not interfere with the surgical wound and an Elizabethan collar and supervision will be required. If a drain has been placed, this will have to be monitored to ensure the drain does not become blocked or dislodged. Follow your veterinarian's instructions regarding replacement or removal of surgical dressings. The wound should be monitored to ensure rupture or infection does not occur. Sutures or staples will need to be removed in 10 to 14 days. Your dog should be kept quiet and avoid exercise or activity that would strain the incision, such as jumping on furniture or roughhousing with other pets. You may need to confine your dog to a cage or kennel if necessary. Follow up with your veterinarian will be necessary to ensure healing has occurred. If chemotherapy or radiation is required, this will usually be initiated once healing of the surgical wound has been achieved.
Cost of Lumpectomy in Dogs
The cost of lumpectomy depends on the location of the lump and the invasiveness of the surgical procedure. Lumpectomies on or just below the skin surface are usually less costly than those performed on internal organs. Lumpectomy costs including anesthetic and procedure can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000, depending on the location of the lump and the cost of living in your area.
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Dog Lumpectomy Considerations
The risks from lumpectomies is low, especially if only local anesthetic was required. Risks from general anesthesia and bleeding are associated with more invasive lumpectomies. Postoperative care is important to ensure infection or rupture of surgical wound does not occur.
Lumpectomy Prevention in Dogs
Early detection of lumps is key to successful treatment, and will minimize the invasiveness of required lumpectomies. Regular examination and grooming of your dog makes early detection of lumps more likely. In addition, avoid allowing your dog to be exposed to harsh rays of the sun, by providing shade or using sunscreens formulated for dogs when necessary. The damage to skin from sun exposure can be minimized.
Lumpectomy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
German Shorthaired Pointer
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2 found helpful
Took our dog, (5yr old German Short hair Pointer) into local vet 7 days ago for lumpectomy on his back hip. Aspiration was inconclusive, but vet said "it looked Like cancer to him". Lump was less than 1" diameter, but the incision was over 7" long, closed with only sutures and no bandages at all. By merely walking around the sutures came out and wound opened. I took him back to the vet, who put in just two staples, and still no bandage. He was given pain meds for only 2 days and I was told to administer Benadral, 75 mg 2xs a day for 2 weeks for "possible allergies". He continually bleed and drained fluids, so I applied a stiff bandage to restrict movement and keep the wound clean. He still managed to open the wound again, this time really bad, by using the E collar like a pry bar. Took him to a 24 hr emergency vet in a big city for expert care. Wound had to be entirely re done under general anesthesia, 2 layers of sutures, and a hard cast like bandage applied. Prescribed meds were for pain, anxiety, infection, (antibiotic), and sleeping pills. I feel better, but the new vet said the wound may never heal, because of the incisions' large size and placement in a precarious place on his body that gets exposed to a lot of tension, bending, stretching, etc. I feel like the the worst pet parent ever. I didn't ask for a biopsy, or second opinion, the vet was so casual and sure of everything, like it was "no big deal". It is a Really Big Deal. To the dog, to our family, (round the clock dog watching, hand feeding and watering, lots of tears), and to our pocketbook. Although I really don't care about that last one. I'm just so worried /concerned that I did this all wrong, trusted the local small town vet for something that was very serious, and now the dog may not make it. He was perfectly healthy before he went in for surgery.
April 10, 2018
Care must be taken when removing masses from places like the hip, shoulder and other joints due to the range of movement and the possible effects on healing; most cases of lumpectomy result in removal of the lump and a healthy margin of healthy tissue (minimum half inch but more if some specific types of cancer are suspected or confirmed). If the lump was shallow, your Veterinarian would have opted for removal (and should have been sent for histopathology afterwards) since it was easily accessible. I cannot comment on the size of the incision (sometimes the lump is bigger once you start operating) or whether it was done correctly because I didn’t witness the surgery but healing may be long term and it may still suffer from dehiscence. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
April 11, 2018
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1 Years 5 Months
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She has a hard lump about an inch long and 1/2 wide that has just popped up at the beginning of her spay scar. She was spayed at 6 months old. It does not seem to bother her. I took her to the vet and they used a needle to see what it may be. They only got blood out. She said to see how it goes. She said it was in the muscle tissue and was not sure what it was. It is very hard and round edges
July 26, 2017
Whilst I haven’t examined Rosie, the two main possible causes may be a seroma which is where there is a gap in the body tissue (common after surgery, but usually immediately after surgery) and the body fills the gap with fluid; the other possible cause may be a hematoma from trauma or a bleed of unknown origin. At this stage it would be a case of keep an eye on it to see if there are any changes, some masses like this can appear and spontaneously resolve whilst others need intervention. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
July 26, 2017
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