The scientific word for cancer is neoplasia, meaning new growth. In reality, it is an abnormal growth of cells that interferes with an organ’s ability to function, resulting in a degree of failure in that organ. Some of these abnormal cells break off from the organ and spread to other organs in the body, causing them to fail. This process is called metastasis, and is the hallmark of malignant cancer.
The enlarged sublumbar lymph nodes in this dog’s abdomen are the whitish areas under the circle. A cancer called adenocarcinoma spread to them through the process of metastasis.
This is what severe bone cancer looks like on the front foreleg (radius and ulna) of a dog. It is a malignant cancer called osteosarcoma. Compare it to the normal radius and ulna below to see the signifiant bone destruction.
A normal radius and ulna on a radiograph
Cancer it is not one disease, has many different causes, and can affect every organ. This makes it quite a challenge to diagnose and treat. Even though the cause is not known in many cases, we do know of major factors that predispose pets to getting cancer. An example is squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in white cats that are exposed to the sun. We tend to see cancer more commonly in our geriatric patients.
A major predisposing factor is dogs, cats and rabbits that are not neutered and spayed when they are young. Their chances of getting breast, testicular, and prostate cancer increase significantly when they are not altered at an early age. The following pages have detailed information on this: