Few things health-related scare us as much as the dreaded big C. Cancer is a frightening diagnosis faced by millions of Americans every year. In some cases, cancerous growths and tumors can be removed and patients can go on to live long and happy lives. In other cases, cancer will spread with unfortunate results to the affected and their families. In men, testicular cancer is one of the types of tumors that are on the rise, with 1 in 263 adult males expected to be diagnosed with this disease over their lifetime.
Many pet owners may assume that, due to anatomical differences between themselves and their dogs, male canine companions cannot suffer from this condition.
Can Dogs Get Testicular Cancer?
Unfortunately yes, dogs suffer from many of the same types of cancers as humans. Intact male dogs are susceptible to both testicular cancer as well as being at risk for tumors spreading, or metastasizing, to other bodily organs. Testicular tumors account for 90% of all cancers originating from the male reproductive system with older, intact dogs being highly predisposed to the condition.
Does My Dog Have Testicular Cancer?
Dogs have the unfortunate difficulty of the inability to communicate in words when diagnosing illness or injury. This means that it is up to their human companions to watch for subtle changes in behavior or physical appearance. Testicular cancer will present with tumors or lumps on the scrotum of your dog. Given the location of the male pooch’s anatomy, these may be difficult to spot for even the most observant of owners. Other more obvious signs will include difficulty or straining in urination, blood in the urine, or noticeable swelling of the region overall.
Your vet will perform a fine needle aspiration in order to diagnose the condition. This will involve taking a small tissue sample from the lump or tumor and viewing it under a special microscope or sending it away to a special laboratory in order to identify the presence of cancerous cells.
Read this article for plenty of additional information on testicular cancer in your dog.
How Do I Treat My Dog’s Testicular Cancer?
Treatment will be handled by an experienced veterinarian who specializes in oncology. The first option when treating testicular cancer in dogs is complete removal of the scrotum area or one or more of your male dog’s testicles. This procedure is similar to having your dog neutered. Your dog will need to be anesthetized and additional precautions may be needed, given a cancerous tumor’s habit of spreading to surrounding tissues, increasing the risk for substantial bleeding during surgery.
The tumor and surrounding tissues will be analyzed after the surgery. Your vet will check for clear margins, or an area of tissue surrounding the tumor that is free of any cancerous cells. If good margins are confirmed, it’s unlikely that the tumor has spread to surrounding tissues or metastasized to other bodily organs.
In cases of larger tumors or those that have spread outside of the scrotal area, your vet may recommend one or more courses of systemic chemotherapy or radiation therapy to help slow or stop the spread in other parts of the body.
How Is Testicular Cancer Similar in Dogs and Humans?
Testicular cancer in humans and dogs are very similar conditions. Tumors tend to begin near the surface of the testes and are usually slow-growing. Testicular cancer is not contagious among either species and the chances of contracting this disease increase as both humans and their canines age.
How is Testicular Cancer Different in Dogs and Humans?
Unlike in humans, testicular cancer is mostly preventable due to the availability of routine neuter procedures for intact male dogs. Neutering dogs after their body has had the chance to utilize important hormones during the growing phase of life, eliminates their risk of coming down with this deadly disease. Also, while some types of testicular cancer in humans can be rapid-spreading, dogs tend to only suffer from slower-growing variations.
The typical doggy testicular cancer patient will be an older fella, usually over 7 or 8 years of age, with chances of contracting this type of cancer increasingly great after the age of 10. Your dog may begin worrying their scrotal region more, licking themselves or biting as a reaction to pain. As the tumor grows, Fido’s scrotum area may appear red or swollen, eventually even ulcerating or having open wounds. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination, including x-rays and ultrasound, in order to confirm the tumor hasn’t spread. After removal of the testicles, your pet should get regular well-visit checkups to confirm the cancer hasn’t returned or spread to other parts of their body.