423 — Cancer Specialist Provides Important Tips on Early Detection

Cancer_ Genetics, Environment or Both_ (1)

Cancer Specialist Provides Important Tips on Early Detection

Dr. Lori Cesario DVM DACVIM (Oncology), Owner, Canine Cancer Academy, joins host Laura Reeves for a life-saving conversation on early detection of cancer in our dogs.

Whether the signs are fleeting and faint, or rapid onset and obvious, Cesario provides tips and tools to help our dogs live longer and healthier lives by catching cancer early.

“Cancer can honestly look like anything,” Cesario said. “A toenail or skin infection. Or it could just look like your dog is a little tired or has a nosebleed or is drinking a ton of water and normally he doesn’t do that.

“So I think the best place to start is just knowing what is normal for your dog and trusting your instincts. Is this normal and this something new isn’t normal. If something changes and is either getting worse or just isn’t getting better, and what your vet suspected just isn’t turning out to be the reason, just don’t blow it off. Pursue it until you have an answer.

“I had a client who did a lot of dock diving with her dog. That dog was just so energetic, so full of life walking down the street, you’d never know there was anything wrong with her. At her most recent dock diving competition, she just wasn’t diving as far as normal. So her incredibly astute owner just said ‘ya you know, I just don’t think somethings right.’ So she took her in for a blood test and the blood test showed that she was just a little bit anemic. Her red blood cell count was a little bit low. They decided to do an ultrasound and found a mass in the spleen.”

Some specific cancers and warnings signs Cesario described include skin tumors, mast cell tumors and hemnagiosarcoma.

“Skin tumors can come in all shapes and sizes,” Cesario said. “We all want them to be benign. The difficult thing about skin tumors is that there are some malignant tumors, especially things like mast cell tumors, that can look exactly the same as a benign tumor, like a lipoma. We’ve all felt lipomas. They’re just the squishy thing under the skin, not too exciting. But whenever a dog develops a new skin mass, you always ask your vet to sample it and get a diagnosis.”

“Our Eyes Aren’t Microscopes”

Cesario reminds listeners of a few warnings signs, but insists that the best answer is to get a tissue sample for a firm diagnosis of visible masses or lesions.

“If you see a mass and it’s waxing and waning, that’s very common with mast cell tumors,” Cesario said. “If you are noticing something like that, don’t think that you’re just making it up in your head. It could very well be a mass. You’re not losing your mind. I tell people to just draw a little black magic marker with a sharpie around the mass (and watch if it increases or shrinks). If it’s a fast growing mass, if it’s open or ulcerated or hairless, very pink, that can also be a mast cell tumor. The only way to know is to sample it.”

Cesario also references the long-awaited blood test for cancer antibodies as a potential game changer in early detection of these deadly diseases.

“(Researchers) have developed a blood test that detects antibodies that the body has produced against the tumor. It sounds like the one that they’re going to release first is a blood test that can detect antibodies against hemangiosarcoma,” Cesario said.


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