What Determines the Prognosis for Canine Lung Cancer?

Tess Thompson

Most of the times, lung cancer in dogs is a result of a cancerous growth elsewhere in the body. Primary lung cancer that originates from lung tissue is rare in dogs. If a lung tumor is suspected or seen in a radiograph, it is reasonable to suspect that it is not primary cancer.

Initial signs of lung cancer, like all types of cancers, tend to remain hidden, and the first signs usually surface in the shape of problems with the canine respiratory system. Symptoms like heavy breathing and chronic cough begin to appear. Frequent cough that is deep and harsh with a lot of phlegm or blood is a sure sign that there is a problem with the dog’s respiratory system.

The manner in which lung cancer progresses depends largely on the type of tumor. Sometimes the only way to really determine the specific type of problem is to remove or obtain a piece of the malignant tissue for examination.

Canine lung cancer normally occurs in older dogs, and therefore there is a need to decide whether or not you want to pursue with treatment at all. To be able to decide this, it is necessary that you understand the kind of treatment that will be required, the prognosis and the risks involved.

Chemotherapy and surgery are the only options available for treating canine lung cancer, as radiation may not be advisable due to the proximity of the lungs to the heart. Since the evidence that chemotherapy is indeed effective in treating primary lung cancer is not known, the only treatment option that remains is surgery. Chemotherapy, however, may be necessary for follow up after surgery to prevent the spread or resurgence of malignant tissue.

Late discovery of cancer is the main hurdle in treating all types of cancer. Lung cancer is usually fatal, with survival time ranging from a few months to a couple of years. Whether one should opt for treatment depends largely on the stage at which lung cancer is detected. Subjecting your pet to treatment is most likely to drastically reduce the quality of life of your pet. Considering the age of the dog it is practical to provide supportive home care and make life as comfortable as you can. In addition, you may provide veterinarian care in the shape of symptomatic treatment for the dog’s respiratory problems.


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