LUMPECTOMY AT AMERICAN
A lump is an abnormal growth or mass that can appear on the
skin surface or below the skin. Removal of a lump is medically
referred to as a lumpectomy.
In addition to appearing anywhere on or in
the body, lumps can also be well encapsulated or invasive
and attached to underlying structures. Some lumps are benign
and other are malignant (likely to spread). If determined
to be benign, treatment is usually limited to surgical removal.
If determined to be malignant, surgical removal of the lump,
as well as additional medical treatment, may be necessary.
In order to determine the cause of the lump, your veterinarian
will first ask you many questions to develop a complete history
of the progression of the problem. Your veterinarian will
need to know your dog's age, when the mass was first noted,
if it has changed in color, size or consistency, if it seems
to bother your dog, any treatments you have tried and the
results. If other veterinarians have done any tests regarding
the mass, then you should bring these results to your veterinarian's
attention. If you have tried any treatments for this problem,
it's helpful to tell your veterinarian about them and whether
they had any effect or not.
The following may also be recommended:
exam. Your veterinarian will perform a complete
physical exam and palpate (feel) the mass to determine
its size, degree of invasiveness and consistency. He/she
will also determine if it seems painful to your pet and
palpate local lymph nodes for enlargement, which could
suggest the mass has spread to these lymph nodes. He/she
will also listen to your pet's heart and lungs, take her
temperature, and palpate your pet's abdomen to be sure
there are no other problems.
aspirate and cytology. Your veterinarian may insert
a small needle into the mass and suck out some cells with
a syringe. These cells can be sprayed on a microscope
slide and then interpreted by a pathologist. This is a
simple procedure that carries little risk, and may help
in the diagnosis. Since only a few cells are acquired
via this method, an accurate diagnosis is not always made
with this test. A biopsy may be necessary for a more definitive
diagnosis. Fine needle aspirate and cytology can also
be done on local lymph nodes near the lump to see if it
has spread to the lymph nodes.
This refers to sampling the tissue for microscopic analysis.
A small piece of the mass can be removed for biopsy ("incisional
biopsy") or (if possible) the whole mass can be removed
and submitted for biopsy ("excisional biopsy").
The outer margins of the tissue that has been excised
should be evaluated microscopically to determine if the
entire mass was successfully removed. Biopsies generally
are invasive procedures that require general anesthesia.
The biopsy results will tell what type of tumor it is
and whether it is benign or malignant.
urine tests. If your pet will be undergoing anesthesia
and surgery, blood and urine tests are run to be sure
that your pet is not anemic and that he doesn't have any
underlying liver or kidney problems that might make anesthesia
risky. In addition, one type of tumor, the mast cell tumor,
can spread via the blood stream, and may be diagnosed
through a blood test called the "Buffy Coat."
Radiographs (x-rays) of the chest may be indicated if
the mass is suspected or confirmed to be malignant to
see if the mass has spread to the lungs. If the mass is
near a bony structure, such as the limb or toe, radiographs
may be necessary of the area to determine if the mass
invades the bone.
General anesthesia and surgery are required
to remove a lump. The lump is removed, including some normal
tissue around it to make sure that the whole mass is removed.
Some tumors extend microscopically very far beyond the primary
mass, making it necessary to remove a large area of tissue
around the primary mass.
If the surgery is extensive and leaves a
large defect, reconstructive surgery can be done to help close
the wound. Some malignant tumors on the limbs and toes require
amputation of the affected limb or toe in order to remove
the whole tumor.
Depending on the type of tumor and/or the
success in removing all of the tumor, additional therapy may
be necessary to prevent recurrence or spread of the tumor.
This can include chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home
and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical,
especially if your pet does not rapidly improve.
- Administer all prescribed medications as directed. Alert
your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating
- Follow your veterinarian's instructions for incision
and/or bandage care. Your pet may need an Elizabethan
collar if she chews or licks at her stitches or bandage.
- Follow your veterinarian's instructions for exercise
restriction. Too much activity can cause the incision
to open, which can result in less than optimal results
and most likely the need for more surgery
Depending on the results of the surgery
and biopsy, your dog may require further surgery or treatment.
A close working relationship with your veterinarian is critical
to the success of your pet's treatment. Frequent re-check
examinations allow for early detection and treatment of any
problems that may arise.