Causes of Nasal Adenocarcinoma
Despite intensive research in both animals and humans, medical science has not yet discovered the precise causes of the various forms of adenocarcinoma, including the locally invasive and usually metastatic nasal adenocarcinoma. Chronic exposure to environmental pollutants has been suggested as a possible contributing factor in dogs that spend the majority of their time in urban settings. Exposure to secondhand smoke (from cigarettes), wood dust and/or toxins from the boot-making or flooring industries have all been weakly linked to nasal tumors in domestic dogs.
In a more general sense, almost all cancers are “caused” by cellular reproduction and tissue growth that occurs at an accelerated, uncontrolled rate. Normally, most cells in the body have a predetermined life span and, when they die, are replaced in an orderly fashion that is controlled by the dog’s genes. When something disturbs this normal genetic process, cellular mutations can occur. These mutated cells tend to reproduce at an alarmingly fast rate, without normal regulation. They can accumulate in masses, called tumors, which can crowd out normal cells and impair normal bodily functions simply by their space-occupying presence.
In addition, cancer cells are no longer able to perform the functions that their normal predecessor cells did. As they continue to multiply without pattern or purpose, the offspring cells similarly lack the capacity to perform normal cellular functions. Cancer cells can enter the dog’s blood stream and/or the lymphatic circulatory system and travel to remote sites – a process called metastasis. They can lodge almost anywhere in the body and continue to reproduce uncontrollably, causing progressive tissue damage and destruction.
In addition to a dog’s inherent genetic makeup and possible genetic mutations, there are environmental carcinogens that can increase the likelihood of cancer in our companion animals. Carcinogens can be eaten (ingested), inhaled or contacted physically, causing eventual alteration in the dog’s genetic code and disrupting the normal system of checks and balances that controls orderly cellular function, growth, reproduction and death.
Preventing Nasal Adenocarcinoma
Because the cause of nasal adenocarcinoma is not understood, it is virtually impossible to describe a meaningful prevention protocol. Unfortunately, little is known about how to prevent any type of cancer in companion animals.
Early diagnosis almost always improves the prognosis for a dog with cancer. When an owner notices a lump or bump on his dog’s face, an abnormal protrusion of one or both eyes, spontaneous nosebleeds for no apparent reason or otherwise perceives that his buddy just “isn’t doing right,” he should take his pet to the veterinarian for a thorough check-up as soon as possible. With prompt diagnosis, aggressive treatment and ongoing management, dogs with nasal adenocarcinoma may go on to live comfortably for months to years.
Adenocarcinomas can affect a number of glandular organs in domestic dogs in addition to tissue in the nasal cavities, including: salivary glands, thyroid glands, lungs, pancreas, kidneys, skin (sweat glands, sebaceous glands), stomach, small and large intestines, rectum, anal sacs and prostate glands.