Thursday, October 16, 2014

Primer On Melanomas

Written and reviewed by John A. Bukowski, DVM, MPH, PhD
and Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS

Malignant melanomas are common in the mouth and on the skin and digits of the feet.  


Tumors may be found on haired or hairless skin, and they may appear pigmented or non-pigmented. 

The tumors may grow rapidly, ulcerate, or bleed. 

Clinical signs of malignant melanomas in the mouths of dogs include lack of appetite, bad breath, or difficulty eating. 

Malignant melanomas can spread, or metastasize, to almost any area of the dog's body, and other clinical signs depend on the area that is affected. For example, metastatic melanoma in the lungs may cause trouble breathing.

Primary treatment for the melanoma in dogs is surgical removal of the lump. 

Melanomas on a dog's digit usually require amputation of the toe.

A biopsy of the mass is needed to grade the tumor, ie, to determine its aggressiveness.  Your veterinarian may also recommend blood work, x-rays, ultrasound, and examination of lymph nodes to help determine a prognosis.

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or immunotherapy may be recommended.

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