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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Carcinoma of the Anal Sac, part 2

Updated: November 18th, 2019

In the last post, anal sac carcinoma was discussed, including diagnosing these malignant tumors in the dog.  In this post, we will cover more on treatments and some data concerning outcomes.

If a guardian is coping with a diagnosis of canine anal sac carcinoma, often major questions arise soon after the news is received.  Chemotherapy?  Radiation?  Diet? Supplements?

As a proponent of guardianship in dogs, my advice is always to get whatever data you can to use as rough guidelines for your particular dog.   In this spirit, below is some information concerning survival statistics for dogs with anal gland carcinoma.  Please remember that these numbers don’t apply to your dog necessarily, as they are calculated based on groups of different dogs.

One study showed the median survival time for dogs with treated tumors was 544 days overall.  The upper limit of the range was up 1, 843 days!  Those tumors that measured greater than or equal to 10 square cm was 292 days while those with smaller tumors had a median survival of  584 days.  (A rough way for your vet to measure the square cm is to measure the radius of the tumor, square it, multiply this by 4, and multiply this by 3.14)

As to which treatment, it looks like the Big 3 conventional steps combined give the best survival chances. These are surgery, chemo and radiation.  If you have to pick, go for the surgery as your minimum.

As usual, the additions of apoptogens, diet, immune support, anti-metastatic treatments, and life quality enhancement are a part of the Full Spectrum Plan provided in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide.


Dr D

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  1. Barbara on March 7, 2022 at 12:35 pm

    I am facing whether to do surgery for anal gland carcinoma on my 13 year old Norwich Terrier. It would mean tumor and node (one seems to be enlarged a bit at the moment) removal….then put her on Paladia. I had a Yorkie with a stomach carcinoma and Paladia made her feel bad and I finally took her off it. Her kidneys failed and we put her down. I just want our Georgie to have a good quality of life till she goes. If we do surgery ($$$) and she doesn’t feel well with the Paladia, I know her lifespan will be short, but do you have any idea about life expectancy in dogs after doing nothing after Surgery? A year? Year in a half? The life expectancy with Paladia is around 1 year 4 months, but if she feels like hell, why do it. Quality vs quantity. If I don’t do the surgery, she may not be able to defecate, depending on which way it’s spreading, and that pains me. It’s a conundrum!

    • Molly Jacobson on March 7, 2022 at 12:45 pm

      It is indeed a conundrum. Your veterinarian should be able to answer your questions about your dog’s case — at least make a guess. As you point out, measuring life quality versus life quantity is an important consideration. The dog cancer diet and supplements Dr. D recommends may be helpful in supporting life quality no matter what you choose to do in conventional care. After all, surgery and medications are just step one of five to treating dog cancer 🙂 … also read the chapter on anal tumors in order to get a clearer picture of the disease as it progresses. Many blessings as you weigh your options.

  2. sue ansted on August 31, 2018 at 11:41 am

    MY 6 year old LH dashchund was dianosed with Anal gland carcinoma 1 month ago.
    Had the surgery, week after vet felt tumor. The surgeon was a specialist, felt he got it all. The biopsy was long and detailed, but the surgeon said the miotic rate was high
    Ultra sound, blood tests,xrays all good, he is doing great…has to go back to vet next week for check up then every 3 months, that is my option or chemo….,so far I have decided against the chemo, I don’t want to be in denial, but he is a fighter and very spunky, most news of this thing is not good on here, but the 5 year one was super.
    What do you think I should do to get the best out come

  3. Susan Kazara Harper on June 1, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Congratulations Kimberly on three great years. It’s hard to make any decisions when the stakes are so high, but it sounds as if you made the right one for your family. Please give your girl a lovely cuddle and a ‘well done’ pat. All the best!

  4. Kimberly Slinger on May 14, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    My lab was diagnosed with anal sac cancer in 2012 and now, 2015, she is 15. We decided against surgery due to the invasiveness of the surgery and her age. Also, I am told it likely will return without chemo, a very costly treatment, though effective and less toxic for canines. Our girl is still enjoying walks, occasional swims, food and we made the right choice not treating the cancer.

  5. CarolBMindi on October 26, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    i just found a large red mass on top of my dog’s anus. She is 16 year female. 2 months ago she had an office visit exam and apparently the vet missed it. new vet is doing biiopsy, suspects cancer. If it had been detected 2 months ago would it have made a difference in prognosis?

    • Susan Kazara Harper on October 27, 2014 at 10:13 am

      Hi Carol,
      Yes, No, no way to tell. When we get a cancer diagnosis, we humans just have to finds ‘whys’ and ‘why nots’ and places to put blame. While early detection is always better, two months is a drop in the bucket and very likely wouldn’t have made a big difference. Be thankful that you found it and that you now have a vet on the case. Please don’t waste time in fear about what you don’t know yet… stay positive, get busy getting her nutrition as top-notch as possible (the Dog Cancer Diet, available in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide book and at When you get the results of the biopsy, write down all the info… yes, no, if yes, stage of the tumor etc. It’s time to take deep breaths and just let your girl know you are with her every step of the way. If the result is positive for cancer, there is SO MUCH you can do! We’re here to help with loads of information. Good luck!

  6. Jen on July 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    I wanted to share our experience with others dealing with the same diagnosis because we only controlled the cancer post-surgery with Palladia. 11 yr old male springer/retriever mix. Super healthy boy outside of this. Surgery to remove the mass and two affected lymph nodes. A lot of $ and time/pain through radiation and then 3 doses of chemo. He went into ICU after 2nd dose of chemo…we almost lost him after reaction to chemo. After reduced 3rd dose, ultrasound found it had come back in his lymph nodes. We were devastated after only 4 months post surgery and radiation. We switched oncologists after our first one only recommended doing another full abdominal surgery followed by another chemo. DO NOT let them do this. We declined and got a 2nd opinion. Why would you put your dog through that surgery all over again when it will just pop up elsewhere and you haven’t found a proven treatment to control it thereafter? Ask questions…and get 2nd opinions. I am so glad we did. Our new oncologist recommended Palladia because it is different than chemo (which didn’t work). So far, it has reduced the size of his infected lymph node, no new growths, and it has given us 7 additional healthy months. He has had some leg cramping and loose bowels. We put him on probiotics and tested some different foods to get him back on track. Things are great. I HIGHLY recommend Palladia before you do radiation or chemo. I wish someone had told us this before all the heart ache, pain for our boy, stress and cost.

  7. Therese on March 4, 2014 at 3:23 am

    My dog just celebrated her 13th birthday in February, more than 5 1/2 years after being diagnosed with anal gland adenocarcinoma (that’s more than 2,000 days!). She’s been through surgery, a few different chemo drugs, radiation, homeopathy, and Chinese herbal medicine. Add to that, home cooked food and plenty of love. She’s a little fighter, and one of the happiest dogs I’ve ever known.

    • Susan Kazara Harper on March 4, 2014 at 4:22 am

      Congratulations! You are both fighters and I know your love and support gave her all the tools she needed to rally and thrive! Thanks for giving us some good news to celebrate. Give her a hug from all of us on the team. She’s a Star!

    • Evelyn on May 8, 2014 at 8:27 am

      Hi Therese,

      Any chance you can share resource for the Chinese herbal medicine? Our dog, just shy of 14 years was just diagnosed with a tumor. Surgery is out of the question due to his age.

      Thank you!!

    • Janie on May 30, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      Hi Theresa I was so happy to read about your dog surviving over 5 years! My Summer girl was diagnosed a year ago and still in remission. I did not do radiation though. Just wondering if you would mind giving me a little more info about what you have done over the years.

      Summers Mommy

  8. mukund on October 29, 2013 at 7:45 am

    You have a great website – this is an invaluable resource. Thanks!

    Our 12y old German shepherd mix was diagnosed with anal sac cancer earlier this month. A pea-sized lump was discovered during rectal exam associated with cleaning impacted anal glands (he had no other symptoms). It was a short way up the rectum and during surgery, the vet thought it was a GI tract mass and unlikely to be associated with the anal sac (he did not feel anything around them). As a result, he did not remove the (left) anal sac. The biopsy report showed good but small margins (~1 mm), but blood tests (Calcium, CBC) were very good as were follow-up abdominal ultrasound and chest X-rays. Also, he had a small mammary (malignant) tumor removed about 2.5 years ago, with no recurrence (treated since with herbs and supplements)… our vet did not see a connection

    We are now considering the next steps – back into surgery to remove the left (or both) anal sacs followed by chemo or just chemo by itself. We decided against a third recommended path, which was radiation treatment for 21 days (on account of daily sedation/anesthesia..he had a tough time (~12 hrs) recovering from sedation from the prior procedures). Our vet has not pushed hard for any specific path. Should the small isolated location and clean diagnostics give us confidence to take the least aggressive path?

  9. Bald_Eagle on October 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Though his tumor in Cubby (Cocker mix) was discovered in Feb 2012, the vet thought it was an “impacted” anal gland. Due to hos long har and the location, it wasn’t noticed until Aug of 2013, when it was HUGE. The oncologist said no matter what was done, they couldn’t get all the cancer cells and he would live 12 months, maxm even with “heroic” measures. We elected to let him live as he was. Other than incessant thirs (due to high calcium levels) and pooping “ribbons” (flat stools due to tumors inpinging against poop chute), he seemed normal. That is, until today. He seemed to strain more the last day or so, and this afternoon it was explosive diarhea across the house. He can’t help it, but I think he is at the end of the road. It is tough when you have had over 20 dogs, but one was as special and close as any other living being in your life (that’s ok, I am divorced, so nobody to get upset).

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