Cancer in pets like cats and dogs is fairly common. Dogs tend to develop cancer at about the same rate as human beings do, while cats are diagnosed somewhat less frequently. Unfortunately, cancer is the cause of death for about 50% of all pets over ten years.
Some common indicators of cancer in pets are symptoms such as persistent or growing swellings on the body, sores that refuse to heal, a reduced appetite, weight loss, or constant fatigue. Though these symptoms may also be evidence for other conditions, all are cause for concern, and require a trip to the veterinarian.
There are are many varieties of cancer in cats, dogs, and other pets. Breast cancer can be common in female cats and dogs, but the chances of developing it can be drastically reduced by spaying the animal at a young age. Cancer of the mouth is a common condition in dogs, though not as much in cats. Lymphoma is a frequently occurring type of cancer, and can sometimes be treated with chemotherapy. Abdominal and bone tumors may also occur frequently.
Cancer in pets is diagnosed in the same methods as cancer in humans is: typically, through x-rays, blood tests, physical signs, and most importantly, a biopsy, which is the removal of a piece of tissue from the body that is believed to be cancerous. For treatment, veterinarians use techniques like radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and other methods. A combination of several different treatments is often employed.
As a rule, there is no typical outcome for the treatment of cancer in pets. As in humans, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the chance of full recovery. With some cancers, the animal may be able to live a relatively healthy life for many months even if the cancer cannot be treated. With others, when painful forms of cancer develop and cannot be treated, euthanization may be necessary. In such cases, the animal will be relaxed with a sedative, and the owner will have the opportunity to say goodbye.
Currently, there are many veterinarian programs dedicated to treating and curing cancer in pets. They hope to find a cure within the next 10 to 20 years, which could then lead to a cure for cancer in humans.