Cancer is a group of diseases in which abnormal cells grow without control, they invade surrounding tissues and ultimately spread to organs throughout the body. There are more than a hundred specific cancer types, each showing unique behaviors and requiring tumor specific treatment strategies. In a normal body, new cells (which form the structures of the body and control its functions) are constantly being made to replace old or damaged cells. This process is very well regulated with a delicate balance existing between cell multiplication and cell death to maintain the right number of cells. When this process goes wrong and the body begins to produce more cells than it needs and/or cells don’t die when they should, the extra cells may undergo genetic changes and can then form a mass called a tumor.
Tumors can be either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign tumors typically remain localized to one place and do not invade surrounding tissues or distant organs. They are not usually dangerous but can cause medical problems once their size begins to compress surrounding tissues. In contrast, malignant tumors contain cells that have the ability to invade neighboring tissues and spread to distant organs via blood circulation or the lymphatic system, a process known as metastasis.
Cancer has become the number one cause of death in older cats and dogs. It accounts for about 50% of pet deaths per year. Though cancer takes many lives, it is for the most part a treatable disease, comparable to diseases like heart failure or kidney failure. There have been many advances in the treatment of cancer that can provide owners alternatives for giving their pets a high quality of life for years to come.
Advances in the detection and treatments of cancer for both pets and humans are significant, but early diagnosis is important in order to have better outcomes to treatments. For diagnosis pets normally require a series of tests to determine if it is cancer, which type of cancer, where is the cancer located, how fast it is growing, and the malignancy of the tumor.
We at NVCR honor the important relationship between the owner, pet, and referring veterinarian to insure that all parties are kept with up-to-date information of the best care options for your pet.