Types of Oral Tumors
Oral tumors account for 6-7% of all canine cancers, and are the fourth most common cancer overall. In cats, it accounts for approximately 3% of all feline tumors. The most common malignant oral tumors in dogs are malignant melanoma, squamos cell carcinoma, and fibrosarcoma. There are other histological subtypes seen, including both benign and malignant subtypes. In cats, the most common oral tumors are squamos cell carcinoma followed by fibrosarcoma.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms often include an oral mass noted by the owners. For masses located in the back of the mouth, a mass may not be evident immediately and patients present for hypersalivation, facial swelling, weight loss, halitosis (bad breath), and bloody oral discharge, pain upon opening of the mouth of inability/difficulty eating or swallowing.
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
Diagnosis usually involves a thorough physical examination, including oral examination, diagnostic imaging, and biopsy. A CT scanner is more sensitive than radiographs for determining the extent of a tumor. Diagnostic evaluation for oral tumors is essential due to the wide range of cancer behavior and therapeutic options available.
- Surgery: Surgery is the most common treatment used for local control for oral tumors. The type of surgery depends on the tumor histology and location. In some cases, combining surgery with other treatments may be beneficial.
- Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy can be effective for locoregional control of oral tumors. It can be used as a primary treatment, or after surgery with incomplete surgical margins. Radiation results in resolution or improvement of clinical signs in the majority of patients. Both definitive and palliative radiation therapy options are available for oral tumors. Long-term outcomes and side effects from treatment vary depending upon the stage and type of tumor. Our radiation oncologist will discuss the different radiation therapy options with you.
- Chemotherapy: The major clinical challenge for oral tumors is control of local disease. Chemotherapy may be useful in the treatment of oral tumors depending on tumor type. Our medical oncologist will discuss chemotherapeutic options specifically for your pet.
- Medical Management: Medical management of oral tumors depends on clincal signs, but often involves antibiotics to treat secondary infections, and/or anti-inflammatory medications.
WHAT IS THE PROGNOSIS?
There are many factors that influence the prognosis of animals with oral tumors, including: specific tumor type, the stage or extent of disease (including tumor size) as assessed by examination, and impacts diagnosis.