Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs (Mastocytomas): Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Often abbreviated as MCTs, mast cell tumors are one of the more commonly found tumors in dogs. In fact, out of all cases of canine cancer, twenty percent of dogs with cancer are diagnosed with mast cell tumors. The main reason why mast cell tumors are so frequently found in dogs is that these tumors can grow from just about anywhere on your dog’s skin.

Not all mast cell tumors look the same appearance-wise either so they not only grow with ease but they can take on just about any form as well. Adding fuel to the fire, tumors that stem from the rapid growth of mast cells are also incredibly aggressive, meaning they are harder to keep under control. The cancerous cells metastasize very readily, so keeping these tumors under control is key.

Figuring out the location of the tumor is one of the first steps. Bone marrow is a common location for MCTs in dogs, but bone marrow isn’t the sole site of origin. Other locations of origin include the liver, spleen, and gastrointestinal tract of our canine companions.

The Three Kinds of Mast Cell Tumors

Medical professionals use a grading system to differentiate between mast cell tumors. The grading system places mast cell tumors into one of three categories…

  • Grade I
  • Grade II
  • Grade III

Grade I

Grade I refers to benign mast cell tumors. They are the least concerning and the easiest to control of the three grades, though they absolutely require treatment sooner than later.

Grade II

Grade II is the category of locally aggressive mast cell tumors. They stay local for awhile but this doesn’t mean they don’t have a high probability of spreading elsewhere. Veterinarians will reference the mitotic index of these tumors to better understand how quickly the cancerous cells will begin multiplying and dividing.

Grade III

Grade III mast cell tumors have the highest likelihood of spreading throughout the body. Grade III tumors metastasize rapidly. The grade III tumors require immediate intervention because you’re working with a shorter time frame. Due to its security, a grade III tumor will often require the introduction of toceranib phosphate as part of the treatment plan.

Even if your dog does not have a tumor of mast cells, it’s still beneficial to educate yourself about mast cell lumps because they are such a common form of cancer in dogs. How about we explore the various symptoms of dogs with mast cell tumors so that pet owners can familiarize themselves with the signs of canine mast cell cancer.

Then, we’ll advise you on the various tools used for diagnosing mast cell tumors, followed by an explanation of treatment options for canine mast cell cancer. Let’s get started!

What Are the Symptoms of Mast Cell Tumors?

The warning signs of mast cell tumors in dogs are very eerily similar to the symptoms of cancer in general. Theoretically, it sounds like it would be easier to know that your dog has a mast cell tumor if the side effects of canine mast cell tumors were more unique or distinguished. However, it’s okay that you don’t know the cancer is a mast cell tumor right away.



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