Bladder Tumors

sad dogTumors of the lower urinary tract are relatively uncommon in dogs and even more rare in cats. The most common type of bladder tumor we see is called transitional cell carcinoma,which arises from the cells lining the bladder and urethra. The most common clinical signs of lower urinary tract cancer often mimic that of a urinary tract infection—increased frequency and urgency of urination (pollakiuria), blood in the urine (hematuria), and/or loss of bladder control (incontinence). In fact, many pets with bladder tumors have concurrent bladder infections and treatment with antibiotics results in a temporary response and “masking” of clinical signs. This often leads to a delay in the diagnosis of most bladder cancers giving the cancer time to progress. Therefore, the majority of cases we see are clinically advanced, and thus difficult, if not impossible, to cure.


Diagnosis of bladder cancer is often tentatively made via ultrasonographic imaging of the bladder but definitive diagnosis requires biopsy. Once a pet has been tentatively diagnosed with a bladder tumor by ultrasound, the next step often involves additional imaging to obtain a tissue sample for biopsy. This is often done using a small scope and camera (cystoscope) to directly visualize the mass and obtain image-guided biopsies in a minimally invasive manner. A diagnosis can also sometimes be obtained through ultrasound-guided catheterization, which is often cheaper and less invasive. Therefore, this latter method is often attempted first in the diagnostic work-up of suspected bladder tumor.


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