Gorgeous Dori, the ten-year-old Golden Retriever, presented to our Berwick clinic recently after her owners noticed some large lumps on her stomach near her nipples. They didn’t seem to be bothering her or causing her any pain but were very hard and appeared to be only getting larger. Based on her age and the location of the lumps (even though she was desexed), Dr. Izzy was concerned that they could potentially be malignant (cancerous) mammary tumours.
Mammary tumours in dogs are a relatively common type of cancer that can affect the mammary glands or mammary tissue, which are found in the breasts of female dogs. These tumours can occur in both intact (non-spayed) and spayed female dogs, but the risk of developing mammary tumours is significantly reduced in spayed dogs, especially if they are spayed before their first heat cycle.
Radiographs were recommended for Dori to ensure that if these lumps were in fact malignant, that cancer had not spread to the rest of her body as well. One diagnostic test that can be performed is thoracic radiographs (chest x-rays) to look for metastases (malignant spread of cancer to the lungs or other thoracic structures). It’s important to note that while thoracic radiographs are a valuable tool for identifying metastases in animals, they are not always definitive. Sometimes, small or early-stage metastases may not be visible on radiographs, and additional diagnostic techniques like computed tomography (CT) scans or ultrasound may be necessary for a more comprehensive evaluation. In Dori’s case, the team wanted to rule out aggressive or end stage cancer so that there was a clear indication for Dori to go ahead with surgery, and luckily for her, no metastases were present on her radiographs and she was booked in for her procedure a few days later.
Though the chest radiographs had given the team one piece of Dori’s puzzle, the other was what type of tumours she had and whether they were sinister or not. This meant that when it came to their removal, Dr. Izzy needed to include not only the masses themselves, but a large margin of healthy tissue surrounding them. This meant that if they were cancerous, it highly increased Dori’s chances of them not reoccurring if appropriate margins were taken and all parts of the tumours were excised successfully. After a very long and difficult surgery which Dr. Izzy performed with the utmost skill, Dori and her loving family had the anxious wait to see what the results from her tests would come back as. After a very long week for the pathology results to return, we were thrilled to share the news with Dori’s parents that her masses were in fact benign (non-cancerous) and the removal of them was expected to be curative! Though Dori is still in her recovery period from her very big surgery, she is showing her true and beautiful Golden Retriever nature by being nothing but a bundle of love every time she visits us! We hope that she never has to have such an intensive operation for the rest of her life. We love you Dori!