Bone Tumors

bone tumorBone cancer is relatively common in dogs, especially large breeds. The biological behavior, prognosis, and treatment of bone tumors depends on tumor type, location of the tumor, and extent of disease or “stage” at the time of diagnosis. Approximately 85% of bone tumors in dogs are fall under a specific tumor type call osteosarcoma (osteo = bone, sarcoma = cancer). This also the most common bone tumor seen in human oncology. Like their human counterpart, osteosarcomas are highly aggressive tumors, characterized by painful local bone destruction and later spread to other bones or organs such as the lungs (distant metastasis). The most common bones for osteosarcoma to occur are the long bones of the limbs, however, osteosarcoma ultimately can occur in any bone (skull, ribs, vertebrae, pelvis) and even soft tissues within the body (spleen, mammary gland, kidney, skin).


The signs associated with a bone tumor are often nonspecific and at least initially, difficult to differentiate from arthritis or a potential sprain or strain after activity. Tumors in the limbs often cause various degrees of lameness and pain, and a firm swelling may become evident as the tumor size increases. It is common for pain to be intermittent initially, and it may improve initially with pain medications prescribed by your veterinarian. As the degree of discomfort increases, it can cause other signs such as irritability, aggression, loss of appetite, weight loss, sleeplessness, or reluctance to exercise. Some dogs may actually present to the veterinarian as a result of a fracture, due to weakening of the affected bone. Other clinical signs may vary, depending on the primary site and involvement of underlying structures.


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Bone Tumors PDF