Several options are available to veterinary professionals for the treatment of mast cell tumours in dogs.
The majority of these tumours can be successful removed by surgery with low risk of recurrence.
However, when the tumour cannot be completely and safely removed by surgery alone, or if the tumour has already spread to other areas of the skin or to lymph nodes, several non-surgical options are available which may shrink the tumour or may reduce the risk of further spread.
The non-surgical options available for veterinary use include radiotherapy and cytotoxic chemotherapies similar to those used in humans (either injected into the dog’s vein or as a tablet) which work by killing all rapidly dividing cells including malignant cells and can be used to help with many different types of tumours. Cytotoxic therapies are not selective for mast cell tumours but can be effective at treating these tumours.
Alternatively, targeted and selective medical treatments are available which have been specifically designed to treat mast cell tumours in dogs and are licensed for this indication. These medical treatments are known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) and are administered to the dogs in tablet form.
TKIs have been specifically designed to act against the cause of the tumour, without attacking or damaging healthy tissues. They can block (“ inhibit”) selected biological pathways which influence the way that a tumour grows and how a tumour invades surrounding tissues. This selective, targeted approach to cancer management has been changing the way that human cancers have been treated since 2001.
How do I know if my dog requires a cytotoxic therapy or a TKI treatment?
These medicines can only be used under the supervision of a qualified veterinarian. If your dog has already been diagnosed with a mast cell tumour, your vet will need to assess the specific characteristics of the tumour(s) in order to recommend the best possible treatment options. Your vet will let you know whether or not a TKI is the most appropriate treatment for your dog.
For more information about Mast Cell Tumours (MCTs) please ask your vet, who may decide to seek advice from - or refer your pet to - one of the many veterinary cancer specialists across the UK who will offer independent, expert guidance.
More detailed information about mast cell tumours can be accessed via the specialist advice button below:
Support and answers for many of your questions about cancer in your pet can be found on the Animal Cancer Trust website below: