Melanoma in Dogs: Learn about Melanoma, including how it can affect your dog, and what options are available to manage this type of skin cancer condition.
Definition of Melanoma
Melanoma, sometimes called “skin cancer,” is a common, locally invasive and frequently malignant type of cancer that can affect dogs, especially older ones. The different forms of melanoma are classified by location: skin (cutaneous melanoma), eyelids (ocular melanoma), nail bed (subungual melanoma) and oral cavity (oral melanoma). What causes melanoma isn’t well-understood. We do know that melanomas arise from uncontrolled growth of cells that produce melanin, a dark pigment that is found in hair, skin, eyes and certain nerves. Unlike in people, melanoma in dogs doesn’t seem to be accelerated by sun exposure. In fact, dark brown and black dogs get melanoma more often than lighter animals. The fact that certain breeds get melanoma more commonly than others suggests that the disease has a genetic component. Most affected dogs show no signs of illness, unless and until the disease has spread to vital organs.
The causes of melanoma in dogs are not known. This type of cancer arises from abnormal, uncontrolled growth of cells that produce melanin, which is a dark, sulfur-containing pigment normally found in hair, skin, eyes and certain nerves. People can develop melanoma from genetic mutations and in part from exposure to ultraviolet light. However, unlike so-called skin cancer in humans, melanoma in dogs does not seem to be exacerbated by excessive sun exposure. In
Melanoma in companion canines unfortunately is fairly common, especially on the eyelids but also in many other locations. Most dogs with melanoma show no systemic signs of illness – at least not unless and until the disease has metastasized to vital organs.Melanoma typically presents as single or multiple brown or black nodules on areas of darkly-pigmented skin – especially on the eyelids. These tumors also commonly occur on the toes (in the nail bed), on
Melanoma is a very common type of cancer in dogs, but is rare in cats. Melanomas are normally classified by their location: oral, subungual (in the toe-nail bed), cutaneous (in the skin) or ocular (in or around the eye). Melanoma can be benign or malignant and generally occurs in older dogs (9 to 12 years). Regardless of type, melanoma tends to be locally invasive.Certain breeds are predisposed to developing melanoma. These are the Doberman pinscher,
Melanoma usually presents as a lump or bump and typically is fairly obvious to owners and veterinarians. The precise diagnosis of this type of cancer requires microscopic evaluation of cells and/or tissue samples. It can be difficult even for a skilled veterinary pathologist to determine whether melanoma is malignant or benign. Radiographs (X-rays) are commonly used to assess whether the disease has metastasized – especially whether it has spread to the lungs.The first part
The primary goal of treating melanoma is to relieve the symptoms that accompany the disorder, thereby restoring the affected dog’s quality of life. Good nursing care, surgical removal, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other medical and supportive techniques are available to treat melanoma in domestic dogs.Melanomas of the skin usually begin and remain benign, but they can become malignant. If the affected areas of skin are bothersome to the dog, or if a veterinarian feels that