Brain Tumors in Dogs
A brain tumor is a mass of abnormal tissue in the brain that grows out of control. Primary brain tumors start in the brain and are made of brain cells. Secondary brain tumors start somewhere else and spread to the brain. For example, breast cancer can spread to and cause tumors in the brain, but those tumors are made of breast, not brain, tissue. This isn’t brain cancer; it’s metastatic breast cancer. What causes brain tumors isn’t well-understood, although they are more common in dogs than most other domestic animals. Genetics probably play a role, as may dietary, environmental, viral, bacterial, parasitic, chemical, immunologic and/or traumatic factors. Regardless of cause, brain tumors are space-occupying masses that displace, compress and compromise healthy brain tissue. Affected dogs may develop seizures, blindness, disorientation, aggression, incoordination, weight loss, weakness, nose bleeds and/or breathing problems. Unfortunately, brain tumors are often fatal.
Since there are a number of different types of primary and secondary tumors that can affect the brain, there is no responsible or accurate way to describe the causes of brain tumors in general terms. In most cases, the causes of cancer remain uncertain. Heredity is thought to play a role in many tumors of the brain and other organs or tissues. Other things that have been suggested as causing or contributing to brain tumors
It is hard to say, generally or specifically, how brain tumors affect any given animal. The symptoms that they experience will depend upon the location of the mass, its size and its aggressiveness. Certainly, depending upon those things, dogs may experience any range of effects, from none to extreme pain and distress. Unfortunately, the outcome for a dog with either a benign or a malignant brain tumor is not all that different in most cases…
Any dog presenting with seizures, sudden vision problems or other signs of abnormal mentation or behavior will be given a thorough physical examination and a complete neurological work-up. Of course, a complete history of the dog’s symptoms and progression of the behavioral abnormalities will be taken from the owner. Most general veterinary practitioners can skillfully perform a basic neurological examination. In many cases, how the dog presents to the veterinarian, together with the history and
Obviously, treatment of any brain tumor must be specifically tailored to the type of tumor, whether it is primary or secondary, its location, and the extent of its invasion into surrounding brain tissue. The primary goals of treating brain tumors are to manage the potential secondary side effects of increased pressure inside the brain/skull and to try to reduce or eliminate the tumor entirely. Three general therapeutic approaches are currently available to treat brain tumors