Cancer is a disease process in which healthy cells stop functioning properly and abnormal cells begin growing at an out of control rate. Normal cells grow, divide and die in an orderly fashion. Cancer cells grow and divide and instead of dying, outlive normal cells and continue to form new abnormal cells. Some cancer cells can travel to other parts of the body beyond where their development originated and again grow and replace the normal tissue. This process called metastasis occurs as the cancer cells travel through the blood stream or lymph vessels of our bodies.
There are many types of canine and feline cancer. Cancer can arise in the skin, organs, bone and blood. Some types of cancer are fast growing and other types grow more slowly. Lymphoma is an example of a common form of cancer that we see in dogs and cats.
Lymphoma - is cancer of the lymphatic tissue. The lymph system is a core part of the body’s immune system. The lymphatic system is an extensive drainage network that defends the body against infections. It is comprised of a network of lymphatic vessels that carry lymph (a clear, watery fluid that contains protein, salts, glucose and other substances) throughout the body. The lymphatic system also serves as a low pressure drainage system that collects interstitial fluid throughout the body and returns it to the bloodstream. The most common sign of lymphoma is a painless enlargement of the lymph nodes.
Mast Cell Tumors – Mast cell tumors are among the most common tumors in dogs and are the most common type of skin cancer found in dogs. The most common location to find mast cell tumors is, by far, the skin, followed by the spleen, liver, and bone marrow. Both normal and cancerous mast cells contain chemicals that can be released into surrounding tissues. When these chemicals (particularly histamine) are released into the normal surrounding body tissues, side effects can include digestive problems (for ex: bleeding ulcers), skin rashes, shortness of breath and other symptoms. Mast cell tumors vary greatly in their size, shape, appearance and texture. The only way to definitely identify them is with a biopsy and pathology report.
Hemangiosarcoma – Most commonly found in the spleen, liver and heart and the prognosis is determined by the location of the disease. The cancer arises from the blood vessels and results in the production of abnormal blood vessels that can be weak and prone to leaking. As the cancer progresses, the cancerous vessels can rupture and results in blood loss. As the spleen is the organ most commonly affected by this type of cancer, rupture can lead to blood loss into the abdomen. This is an emergency situation and can result in weakness and collapse. Many pets with hemangiosarcoma often require a splenectomy.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma – Cancer that occurs in the mouth, underneath the tongue or along the gums of the middle-aged and older cats. Common signs of squamous cell carcinoma in cats includes difficulty eating, interest in food but not wanting to eat, drooling and odor from the mouth.
Osteosarcoma -- Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone tumor in dogs. Osteosarcoma beings in the bone but can spread throughout the bloodstream very early in the course of the disease (metastasis). The most common areas for this cancer to appear are the wrist, shoulder, knee and hip. The first sign of bone cancer is lameness due to pain from the cancer. Swelling often occurs at the tumor site.
Feline Intestinal Lyphoma--Many cats with lymphoma have the intestinal form. It is not uncommon to find that these cats may have a history of IBD, diarrhea and inflammation in the intestinal tract. Patients are usually elderly cats as the disease is found more often in older cats. Diagnoses of intestinal lymphoma is best made via biopsy. If a mass is present, it can be surgically removed at the time of the biopsy or it can also be aspirated. Intestinal lymphoma may not create a mass but rather a thickened or abnormal appearance of the intestine. In addition to conventional cancer treatments, it is very important to change the diet of these to cats to an anti-inflammatory, low-allergen diet. Many cats have responded extremely well to our IBD Kit in conjunction with conventional care.
Transitional Cell Carcinoma – Tumors usually form at the bladder opening and can cause blockage causing painful urination. Pets often strain while trying to urinate. Transitional Cell Carcinoma can be difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms such as straining to urinate, blood in the urine or frequent urination are often due to a urinary tract infection. This can delay the discovery of the cancer, especially since antibiotics can often result in some improvement of symptoms. Thus, at the time of diagnosis, bladder cancer can be fairly far advanced and have spread to other parts of the body.
Adenocarcinoma – Anal sac adenocarcinomas are tumors arising from the apocrine glands present on either side of the rectum. These tumors can range greatly in size from a very small mass that can be found only after a rectal examination or a large mass protruding from the rectum. While the tumor appears locally, it is quite common for them to metastasize, often to the lymph nodes inbetween the spine and colon. Symptoms vary depending upon the gender of the pet and can include increased thirst, weakness, persistent licking at the site, difficulty defecating, decreased appetite.
By far the best results can occur when patients use a combination of both conventional and holistic veterinary medicine when treating their pets with cancer. Regardless of the treatment protocol, a nutritious diet and some carefully selected supplements can only help to strengthen the pet and keep them feeling more comfortable. Research and education are key, as well as working with your veterinarian and other veterinary professionals to ensure that your pet is receiving all of the treatment alternatives possible—both conventional and holistic.