Breast and prostate cancer in dogs and cats: what to do

The diagnosis of cancer in the family is always a blow and with those who consider their pets part of it is no different. Whether because animals have reached advanced ages, whether for genetic or environmental reasons, the fact is that dogs and cats have increasingly developed the disease, especially the forms that affect the breasts and prostate.

Considered the most common in female dogs and the third that most affects female cats, breast cancer is associated with hormonal factors and, therefore, the best form of prevention is castration.

According to Frederico Vaz, coordinator of the Veterinary Medicine course at Faculdade Anhanguera, the operation before the first heat reduces the chances of developing breast tumors by up to 99%. In cats, castration around six months reduces the incidence by up to 90%.

Castration may help prevent breast cancer, which can be hormonal in origin.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Another way to prevent the appearance of breast tumors is to non-application of contraceptives in animals, as they can stimulate the development of the disease even in the youngest.

Although the hormonal issue has a direct and important relationship with neoplasms (any growth in the number of cells, which can be a benign or malignant tumor), the causes are still not fully elucidated and are usually multifactorialthere may also be genetic, hereditary and even environmental influences.

Prostate cancer is more common in dogs than in cats and the average age of onset is 10 years.

There is no evidence of a relationship between early castration and the development of neoplasia in this region. However, it can prevent a relatively common condition in older animals, which is benign prostatic hyperplasia, that is, an enlarged prostate.

Prostate cancer is more common in dogs - Getty Images - Getty Images

Prostate cancer is more common in dogs

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Races and genetic changes

The fact that some “new” breeds carry genetic alterations — such as a higher degree of consanguinity (kinship) and low genetic variability — makes animals predisposed to several types of diseases, including cancer.

Bruno Roque, veterinarian and consultant DrogaVetpoints as an example the American Bully breed, which has inherited problems, such as changes in the development of cartilage, joints and some tumors. He himself has taken care of a young puppy of this breed who, at 5 months of age, had cancer.

American Bully puppy - Getty Images/iStockphoto - Getty Images/iStockphoto

American Bully puppy

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Other breeds that seem to have some predisposition to breast cancer are Poodle, Dachshund, Cocker Spaniel and German Shepherd. In cats, there is a greater occurrence in Siamese and Orientals.

Karen boteonveterinary affairs consultant boehringer ingelheim, makes a point of emphasizing, however, that there is still not enough scientific evidence to define an exact correlation between the races in which the disease is more common.

The racial correlation of prostate cancer is also uncertain, but there seems to be more occurrences in breeds such as Doberman, Pinscher, Sheepdog, Scottish Terrier and Miniature Poodle.

Symptoms and treatment

Symptoms range from noticeable lumps to pain and bleeding - Getty Images - Getty Images

Symptoms range from noticeable lumps to pain and bleeding

Image: Getty Images

The most common symptom of breast cancer in pets is the presence of nodules (in the form of balls) under the skin in the abdominal region near the breasts, close to the nipples or on the same line between one breast and another.

With evolution, in addition to increasing in size, these nodules can ulcerate (feel sores) and bleed. In addition, the affected area may also be painful and hot to the touch as a result of the inflammation.

“The diagnosis can be made by a fine-needle aspiration test of the nodule and subsequent cytological analysis or even more commonly by means of biopsy, with the removal of the nodule through surgery”, explains Karin boteonveterinary affairs consultant boehringer ingelheim.

The evaluation of other organs such as lung and liver through imaging tests is an important part of the diagnostic process, as breast cancer can spread to these sites.

The treatment of this type of tumor is always surgical and the removal of the lump, the breast or the entire mammary chain may be necessary. Postoperative chemotherapy is commonly indicated.

Treatment involves surgery and chemotherapy - Getty Images/iStockphoto - Getty Images/iStockphoto

Treatment involves surgery and chemotherapy.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

As for prostate cancer, symptoms include bloody urine, difficulty urinating, difficulty defecating, and tape-shaped or flat stools, as an enlarged prostate can compress the large intestine. With evolution, weight loss, lack of appetite and abdominal pain may occur.

Prostate tumor metastases are more common in the lungs, liver, urinary tract and bones such as the spine and pelvis, leading to a very high pain picture.

“The diagnosis is based on the symptoms and ultrasound findings, where the enlarged prostate and its shape, often irregular, are visualized. As with breast tumors, an important part of the diagnostic process is the evaluation of other organs, since cancer is quite metastatic“Karin explains.

Treatment is primarily aimed at reducing the size of the prostate. The use of radiotherapy and some anti-inflammatory medications may be indicated.

Prevention by the plate

Cancer prevention in pets can start with food - Getty Images - Getty Images

Cancer prevention in pets can start with food

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Always a controversial subject, food is also a factor to be considered when thinking about disease prevention, especially cancer.

All industrialized food contains substances that can favor the development of tumors that are classified as chemical carcinogens, especially substances capable of causing DNA damage”, says Roque.

As for trendy natural food, the veterinarian says that it is worth remembering that it is not food considered healthy by humans, but that prescribed by a nutrition specialist based on fresh foods and not industrialized feed.

Despite stating that there is no scientific evidence that correlates transgenic or other foods with breast or prostate cancer, Karin says that a good quality and balanced diet is important in preventing harmful clinical conditions such as obesity, which, in young bitches, can be a risk factor for the development of breast tumor.

possible cure

Cure for breast cancer is possible, according to veterinarians - Getty Images/iStockphoto - Getty Images/iStockphoto

Cure for breast cancer is possible, according to veterinarians

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Complete remission of breast cancer in pets is possible”, says Karin. According to her, this cure is conditioned to several factors such as the stage of the disease, type of tumor, involvement of other organs and comorbidities of the pet.

Animals that, after surgical removal, need chemotherapy, can be treated for up to two years and require constant monitoring even if there is complete remission, recalls the specialist.

Treatment can improve the quality of life for a pet who had cancer - Getty Images - Getty Images

Treatment can bring more quality of life to the pet who had cancer

Image: Getty Images

However, there is no cure for prostate cancer, according to Karin, and there is a search for improvement in the symptoms and quality of life of the little animal.

Whatever the case, however, the chances of cure and recovery are always greater the sooner the tumor is diagnosed and treated.

Therefore, it is essential to go to a veterinarian regularly for checkups that also include the investigation of neoplasms. For patients who already have some type of diagnosis or who have already had a cancer detected, it is important to follow up with an oncologist every six months.

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