Pet Cancer: Melanoma

Pets get melanoma too! But unlike people, it is not usually a result of too many hours lying on the beach.  Canine melanoma on the skin presents as a pigmented or non-pigmented skin mass most commonly on the face, trunk, feet or scrotum. Feline melanoma on the skin presents on the head or ears.  Oral melanoma grows inside the mouth.

Up to half of skin melanomas and most oral melanomas are malignant.  Diagnosis can often be made with a fine needle aspirate biopsy, but sometimes a surgical biopsy is required.  Surgery is the first step for treatment of pet melanoma.  Skin melanomas require removal with surrounding margins of healthy tissue.  Oral melanomas also require excision with margins, and this often entails removal of a part of the jaw to ensure that adequate margins are removed.  Malignant melanomas can spread, and the first sites of spread are the local lymph nodes and the lungs.  The vet will probably stage the disease by checking local lymph nodes and taking chest X-rays prior to any major surgery.  Chemotherapy may also be recommended in some cases.

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