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How to tell whether a skin lump is a tumor – important advice from a Markham veterinarian

By November 30, 2013 February 28th, 2019 Uncategorized

We see skin tumors and lumps in our veterinary hospital in Markham on a daily basis.

Many dogs and cats develop lumps on their skin. Often the groomers notice a small lump on the skin and fortunately tell the owners to bring their pet to us to get the lump checked out. In our experience as veterinarians in Markham, almost all older pets have some lumps.

 Is the lump cancerous… or is it harmless?

That is the question veterinarians have to ask each time. While the masses are usually harmless, we often see malignant cancers.

We remember clearly a little Schnauzer named Lucy. She came to our veterinary clinic in Markham for an annual physical examination. Dr. Marsig noticed a small lump, not bigger than 3 millimeters in diameter. The lump seemed very innocent and Lucy seemed as happy and healthy as before.

What can you do when you see a lump on your pet?

here are three main options:

1. Monitor the lump closely for any changes in size, color, and consistency.
2. Take a fine needle aspirate and send it for cytological characterization. This procedure is like reverse injection where a small sample of the mass is drawn in a needle and sent to the lab. It is usually a pain free, fast, and inexpensive procedure.
3. Remove the lump surgically and send the entire lump for histology.

Your veterinarian will discuss with you the pros and cons of the individual options.

In Lucy’s case the owner chose to monitor the lump. Unfortunately, the lump grew very fast and doubled in size within 2 weeks. We then swiftly decided to remove the entire lump and surrounding tissue because we were afraid this could be cancer. Our worst fears came true. The cancer was composed of very primitive malignant cells which had already spread internally into the lungs. We were so sad that the lovely Lucy did not have much longer to live. Sadly, there was no happy ending.

This story, as extreme as it is, shows why Veterinarians advise that no lump should stay unchecked. If you feel any lump on your pet that has not been looked at, please call and take the first step to prevent some potential risk.


Your Careteam

Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).

Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.

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