A tumour is a clump of cells that do not obey the normal rules of cell growth. Normally, cells grow until chemical messengers in the body tell them to stop growing. Tumour cells do not listen to these messengers and continue to grow and grow …. and grow.
Tumours in general may be divided into two types: the first type of tumour is called a benign tumour. Benign tumours usually grow slowly and push other types of cells out of their way. These tumours do not spread to other parts of the body, nor do they push their way through nearby organs. The other type of tumour is a malignant tumour. Malignant tumours will often grow rapidly and invade nearby organs. Cells from these tumours often break off and spread to other parts of the body where they grow into new tumours. As you can imagine, a malignant tumour is extremely serious. A malignant tumour is what we refer to as cancer.
Often we leave benign tumours alone. However, there are certain circumstances when we must surgically remove them. If the following criteria apply, we will need to remove your pet’s tumour.
1. If the tumour is growing rapidly.
2. If the tumour, after a long period of no growth, has suddenly started to grow again.
3. If the tumour begins to change in appearance, for instance, was formerly soft and now is hard or was formerly smooth and circular and now is beginning to grow nodular and lumpy.
4. If the tumour is beginning to interfere with function, for instance if your pet’s tumour is near the elbow joint and is beginning to, or will soon be, preventing your pet from moving his elbow.
5. If the tumour is in a location where any growth will cause it to either be difficult or impossible to remove, for instance, a small tumour on the paw might be able to removed in the early stages. However, if it grows larger, there might not be enough skin to cover the wound made by removing it.
6. If the tumour looks unsightly or upsets you, this is also a reason to remove it.
7. If your pet is biting or scratching at the tumour and causing it to become infected or bleed.
It is very important to keep a close watch on your pet’s tumours. Although it may not be a problem at this point in time, it may become a problem. Each month re-evaluate the size and if any changes have occurred, contact us immediately.
© Forrest Hill Vets (2000) Ltd