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

How to Use the Mitotic Index to Make Decisions About Mast Cell Tumors

Is using the mitotic index mast cell tumor diagnosis useful? In some cases, not as much as others. But when it’s useful, it’s REALLY useful!

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Food and Nutrition for Dogs with Mast Cell Tumors

Dr. Dressler’s Dog Cancer Diet is appropriate for most dogs, but dogs with mast cell tumors need a few modifications. Read this if your dog needs a low-histamine diet.

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How Important Are All Those Expensive Diagnostic Dog Cancer Tests?

You could easily spend over $1,000 just to diagnose your dog’s cancer. Are any of those tests worth it? Which ones?

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Mast cell tumor treatment: chemotherapy

In my last blog, I discussed surgery and radiation for MCT. Today we will focus on chemotherapy. Which dogs need chemo? Your dog may not even need chemotherapy. In many dogs that I see with MCT, I do not recommend chemotherapy at all. This is because chemotherapy is not as effective as surgery and radiation…

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Mast cell tumor treatment: surgery and radiation

We’ve spent a number of recent blogs understanding how MCT behave, how to confirm the diagnosis, MCT grade, what staging tests to consider, and what the prognostic predictors are. Now let’s talk treatment. First, let’s think about the three main conventional tools oncologist use to treat tumors: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. In general, it is…

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Beyond Mast Cell Tumor Grade: Other Prognostic Factors

In my last blog on mast cell tumor (MCT) grade, I discussed that grade is one of the most important prognostic factors, or predictors, for dogs with MCT. And I also discussed the challenges of using the grade as a predictor: a good percentage of grade 2 MCT behave more aggressively than the rest of…

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All about Mast Cell Tumor Grade

Knowing the grade of your dog’s mast cell tumor (MCT) is important, because the grade tells us a lot about how serious a case your dog has, and what the likely prognosis or outcome will be. Tumor grade cannot be discovered via aspirate. MCT grade is determined by a boarded pathologist at a lab, who…

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The oncologist’s thoughts on what to do after the aspirate confirms mast cell tumor?

In my recent blog, we discussed the aspirate that confirmed the diagnosis of mast cell tumor (MCT.) Now there is a decision to make, should you have your dog staged to make sure the MCT has not spread, or should you proceed to surgery to remove the tumor and find out the grade? Remember what…

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The Oncologist’s thoughts on mast cell tumors

If ever there was a tumor that fits the saying: “one size does NOT fit all”, it is mast cell tumors (MCT). These tumors are common, particularly skin tumors, in dogs. You may know a dog that had a mast cell tumor removed with surgery and went on to live many happy years to never…

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Diagnosing mast cell tumors

When should you see an oncologist for a mast cell tumor (MCT)? I recommend you get an oncologist involved early. But before you see me, you need to know what a MCT looks like, and how they are diagnosed. Most dogs are not feeling or acting sick when they are diagnosed with MCT. Usually the…

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My Dog is Young…and Has Cancer??

These days cancers in young dogs do not seem to be that rare.  And they are especially difficult since it is such a shock.  Often we have the perception that things like this do not happen, or should not happen. Yet we are faced with this brutal reality that seems impossible to accept and even…

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Not All Soft Lumps are Lipomas!

Many times dog lovers will be told that their dog’s soft lump is a fatty tumor, and is no problem.  The veterinarian is usually thinking about lipomas, benign tumors made of fat that may be genetic in dogs. This information is not always correct, and sometimes the mistake is life threatening.  Although it is true…

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Cancer-Prone Dog Breeds

If you have a purebred dog, be on the look out for problems that are more common in your dog’s breed. Different breeds are more prone to certain health issues.  Many are familiar with genetic diseases like hip dysplasia, more common in large breed dogs.  However, there are more examples of breed-associated diseases, and cancer…

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Testing for Mast Cell Tumor Spread: Buffy Coat?

Mast cell tumors occur commonly in the dog. There are three basic grades of mast cell tumor (Grade 1, 2 and 3).  The Grade of the mast cell tumor is useful because it gives the veterinarian or oncologist an idea of how aggressive the mast cell tumor will be. Another way of talking about this…

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A Useful Discussion for Dogs With Cancer

I received a question recently that involves a common situation for guardians coping with a dog cancer diagnosis. So, to benefit everyone, I am including my answers here, in the hopes that you can apply the information to how you manage your dog with cancer. This case is Almond, who is a 10 year female…

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Mast Cell Tumor Internal Spread

It is important to tell whether or not a dog tumor has spread internally. This question is not only very frightening for a dog lover, but also has some real medical ramifications.  So let’s take some time with this concept and mast cell tumors. Mast cell tumors are very common in dogs.  They come in…

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Cancer Cure?

Recently I heard the comment that medicine (in my case, veterinary medicine) is primitive. This is a very interesting comment, especially if we are talking about canine cancer. When you are coping with a canine cancer diagnosis, the question of curing cancer comes up frequently.  Now, shifting back to this idea about medicine being primitive,…

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When to Avoid Chemo for Canine Mast Cell Tumors?

There has been much online talk these days about dogs with mast cell tumors (read, Palladia) which are the most common canine cancer. So I thought I’d just add some fuel to the fire and give my readers some overall guidelines about mast cell tumors and chemotherapy. As many already know, these cancers come in…

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Diet for Dogs With Mast Cell Tumors

Friends, Today’s post will likely be met with some skepticism from those immersed (and confined) to our Western medical approach.  So if this is your framework, please keep an open mind.  You will be pleased to know that the information here is taken from little known, but still Western, data banks. I have recently been…

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Why use stomach medication for mast cell tumors?

Many dog lovers are coping with a diagnosis of canine mast cell tumor.  Just yesterday afternoon I was removing a very large one from the body wall of Big, a 10 year old, 105 pound, much-loved mixed breed. The day before his surgery, Big started to throw up.  He became quite sick, and would not…

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Why Benadryl For Mast Cell Tumors?

Most of us have heard of Benadryl.  In human medicine, we usually use it for allergies.  You know, hay fever, runny eyes, sneezing, and allergic sinus congestion. It is also used for more sudden-onset allergic reactions with hives, facial swelling and so on. In veterinary cancer care, Benadryl is often recommended for dogs suffering from…

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Is it for me or for my dog?

Decision making when loving a dog with a cancer diagnosis can be tough. Many times we will experience some degree of confusion in decision making.  There are many options that are presented.  Should I allow chemotherapy? Amputation?  Is radiation really worth it? I think that a lot of the difficulty may not actually relate to…

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Dog Cancer Surgery: They Didn’t Get It All Out

Sound familiar? Did this happen to anyone out there? Removal of all the cancer cells from the body during surgery is pretty important.  How can we tell? The most important thing to do is get that biopsy report.  Some don’t want the extra cost.  “Just get it out” is a line I have heard from…

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Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs: some advances in conventional care

Hi!  I have been getting feedback about mast cell tumors and I would like to get some info out there.  I will focus on some conventional medicine advances for the time being that should be thoroughly checked into by dog lovers interested in mast cell tumors. These are not general cancer recommendations, rather just a…

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Mast Cell Tumor Surgery and Benadryl

The mast cell tumor is very common in the Pug, Boxer, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Shar-Pei and other breeds.  This tumor most commonly occurs in the skin as a raised, inflamed nodule or mass. Sometimes it is found internally in the liver or spleen. The cells that make up this tumor are called mast cells.  There are…

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Pain in Dog Cancer and Life Quality

Many have concerns their dog may be in pain.  And rightfully so, since pain is a definite negative.  Pain control is a massive topic all by itself, and it is by no means strait forward. There are different kinds of pain. Sometimes  dull, throbbing pain happens in cancers like osteosarcoma (bone cancer).  Severe pain in…

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Signs of Cancer in Dogs

Many people as me what to look for to tell if their dogs have cancer. I thought I should give you a little summary of some of the biggies.

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