If you find a lump on your dog or cat, your next move should be to pick up the phone and call your veterinarian.
While many growths are nothing to worry about, some can be life-threatening and are best dealt with as sooner rather than later. As masses get bigger, they get more difficult (or sometimes impossible) to remove.
We Need to See Those Cells
It’s not possible to know what a mass is by just looking at it.
After a thorough exam, it is likely that your vet will perform an aspiration cytology. This is medical lingo for poking the lump with a needle to collect cells, then looking at them under a microscope. That’s where we get the saying, “Don’t wait, aspirate!”
Abnormal cells can be a sign of cancer. If suspicious cells are seen, then surgery may be recommended. Certain types of masses also guide level of aggression in surgical planning.
Aspiration cytology does not always give us answers, so a biopsy (piece of tissue) may be needed.
Margins Are Needed
Because abnormal cells may extend beyond the edges of the visible mass, extra tissue is taken from around the mass to make sure all the bad cells are removed. This is called a “margin.”
This is why incisions are longer than the width of the mass.
Sketch of an elliptical surgical incision around a circular nodular mass.
Less Skin + Bigger Mass = More Difficult Surgery
Leg masses can be challenging since less skin is available to close an incision. Again, getting leg masses checked out when they are small is going to improve odds of a successful surgery.
Don’t Wait, Aspirate!
Removing a small lump can be a simple procedure, while allowing a mass to grow can make it difficult or impossible to remove, especially if it is on a leg.
If your dog or cat has a new lump, then make an appointment today with your veterinarian. Animal Care Clinic, Inc. is happy to help dogs and cats at four locations in Henderson and Boulder City, Nevada.