By Vanessa Voltolina | Pet360.com
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is observed every year in October. While many of us know about breast cancer, pet owners may not know that dogs and cats can be victims of the disease too.
Breast Cancer in Dogs
About one in three dogs die of cancer, around the same rate as people. Mammary tumors are most commonly found in un-spayed, female dogs between the ages of five and ten years. While half of the mammary tumors found in dogs are benign, the other 50 percent are malignant (the confirmation of a dog cancer diagnosis). Un-spayed female dogs are more susceptible to mammary tumors than females spayed before their first heat.
Because both benign and malignant tumors in dogs have receptors, estrogen or progesterone, vets and experts think the presence of female hormones can promote the growth of tumors. By eliminating hormonal factors as soon as possible (by spaying), your pet has a lesser chance of suffering from breast cancer.
While mammary glad tumors aren't common in male dogs, if they are diagnosed the cancer is very aggressive and the prognosis poor. There are also some canine breeds that have a higher incidence of mammary cancer than others. The highest risk dog breeds include boxers, golden retrievers, rottweilers, Bernese mountain dogs, Boston terriers, English bulldogs, Scottish terriers and cocker spaniels.
Breast Cancer in Cats
Like with dogs, cancer of the mammary glands can be lethal in cats. As a matter of fact, it's the third most common cancer among cats. The good news? It's also one of the most preventable. Mammary tumors are most commonly found in un-spayed cats between 10 and 12 years old.
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Precautionary Measures for Your Pooch
To prevent the disease, take the precautionary measure of spaying your dog at an early age, which decreases the risk of both benign and malignant tumors. Spaying after this age reduces the risk of benign tumors but not necessarily malignant tumors. Also conduct regular examinations of both female and male dogs. Check around the nipple area and feel for a solid mass. If you do detect a bump, call your vet immediately.
Precautionary Measures for Your Kitten
For cats, spaying at a young age can also decrease the risk of tumors. Kittens spayed before they're six months old have a 91 percent reduction in their risk of developing the disease. Those spayed before the one year mark have an 86 percent risk reduction. Be sure not to delay having your cat spayed, since those spayed before the age of two have only an 11 percent reduction, with no reduction of risk at all after age two.
Course of Treatment
Similar to some of the steps when treating human breast cancer, you can expect your pet to receive a biopsy, followed by removal and analysis of mass.
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