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Tip of the Month

10/25/2010 Lumps and Bumps

Finding a lump or bump on your family pet can be an unsettling situation. As our pets live longer lives, cancer becomes a common concern as they can get all types of cancer Ė bone cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, cancer of the liver and pancreas. The lump could be nothing but it can also be bad news.

Some can be felt or even seen on the skin or be discovered just under the skin. Cancer would automatically come to mind but a lump or bump on the skin could be an abscess, a hematoma (blood filled), a benign tumor or just hives due to an allergic reaction. Plus soft lumps that are just under the skin could be a simple fatty tumor (called a lipoma) and are usually not considered a problem. You can learn about different kinds of lumps and bumps in veterinary assistant school.

Any lump or bump that you find should always be evaluated by the veterinarian. You should consult with a veterinarian right away if the lump or bump is ulcerated, painful, warm, and seems attached to the underlying tissues or has been growing rapidly.

The veterinary technician or veterinary assistant may ask a series of questions such as how many lumps have you found and where are they located, how long has the lump been there and how fast has it been growing. They may ask for you if your pet has had any recent injections or vaccines and if the lump has changed in appearance, size and color. Also if your pet has gained or lost weight, any diarrhea or vomiting, loss of appetite, drinking more or less water, or changes in behavior.

The veterinarian may aspirate the mass checking for fat cells, blood cells or cancerous cells. This is done by inserting a small needle that is attached to a syringe and drawing out the cells. These cells are then placed on a slide, stained and viewed under a microscope for identification. This process is quick, painless and can usually lead to a diagnosis.

If the diagnosis is unclear, a biopsy may need to be performed which either means a small sample is taken or the veterinarian may suggest removing the entire mass which is then is sent to a laboratory for analysis. If the mass is simply a benign (non cancerous) lump or a fatty tumor, most times nothing needs to be done. If the diagnosis is cancer, there are many chemo treatments that are available, depending upon the type of cancer and its location.

Through diagnostic testing and treatments, the petís life can be saved and they can live a long, comfortable life. If you are concerned about a lump or bump that you have found on your pet, you can contact your veterinary facility and speak to a vet assistant for further help.

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