Many times dog lovers will arrive in my hospital and point out that their canine companion has a bump. They are soft, kind of like very firm jello. “Doesn’t seem to be causing any pain,” they say.
Hmmm. Well, it could be a “fatty” tumor. This is simply a tumor made out of fat. Yes, a big glob of fat, the same stuff that makes us chubby.
Some clients have used natural means to help their dogs with these tumors. I have had my clients say they have had luck with curcumin given by mouth. Curcumin is a part of the spice turmeric. In The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, I wrote about this bioflavonoid. It can be purchased as an ingredient in Apocaps, and also by itself as a sole agent.
Many dog lovers have heard of fatty tumors, and have been told by their vets that there is nothing to worry about. And many times, they are right.
Not every time, though.
Some Fatty Tumors Are Cancers
Here’s why: first of all, not every soft tumor is a “fatty” tumor. Remember mast cell tumors, the Great Imitators? Some mast cell tumors are aggressive, life-threatening cancers. And they can feel just like a benign fatty tumor.
Your vet can differentiate between a fatty tumor and a mast cell tumor with a simple fine needle aspirate. This is an easy outpatient procedure where the vet takes a sample with a needle and sends it to a pathologist. Many of us will review the slide right in house.
Another soft gushy tumor, especially on the limbs, in called a hemangiopericytoma. This is an unfriendly tumor, folks.
Because two dangerous tumors can look like fatty tumors (lipomas) I recommend that all such tumors get aspirated.
Some Fatty Tumors Are Dangerous In Other Ways
Secondly, not every tumor made out of fat is truly benign. Most are, and they are called lipomas. However, a small portion of them grow aggressively. They invade surrounding tissue. They often grow fairly quickly, over months, and expand. These fast growing lipomas have crossed the line and become what are called liposarcomas.
Get the Dog Cancer Survival Guide to learn more on how veterinarians diagnose and stage cancer in Chapter 9
The reason it matters is that they can become quite large. And you remove them and they will often regrow, since they are difficult to remove. You think you got ’em, and they come back.
Liposarcomas are not good news. So again, if you have a rapidly growing, fatty tumor, get it out. You might be dealing with a liposarcoma, and they can be tough. Have the vet biopsy the edge, and make sure they include adjacent muscle, or the path folks may complain they don’t have enough data to make a call.
Best to all,
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.