Bladder Cancer in Dogs

Summary:

"Bladder Cancer in dogs is a relatively uncommon condition, but when it does occur it surely causes obstructive uropathy which is a blockage in the urinary tract. It can also cause secondary bacterial infections that can cause the condition to worsen.

Transitional cell carcinoma is the most common type of dog bladder cancer, but it is possible that other benign and malignant forms occur as well. Clinically, symptoms of bladder cancer usually resemble a urinary tract infection. When repeated attempts at treatment cannot clear what is thought at the time to be an infection, then a veterinarian will explore further using advanced techniques such as biopsy and radiography to determine if bladder cancer is the underlying cause of the dog's condition.

Surgical elimination of tumors is the preferred treatment plan but is not effective if the cancer has metastasized, which means that it has spread. Chemotherapy on the other hand is effective, but hasn't been recognized as an approved therapy. The prognosis depends upon the type, location, and stage of cancer; collectively however, it is generally deemed poor."

Overview of the Types of Bladder Cancer in Dogs

Many researchers believe that dog bladder cancer is a relatively uncommon condition. Whenever it occurs, it does not remain restricted to the urinary bladder only, but it affects almost all parts of the lower urinary tract including the urinary tube, urethra and surrounding areas.

Malignant or fast growing forms of canine bladder cancer are more frequently found vs.benign or slower growing forms.

Transitional cell carcinomas are the most common type of bladder cancer. These may occur either as a single mass on the inner surface of the bladder or as several papillary like projections. Transitional cell carcinomas originate from mucosa and with time diffuse into deeper tissues and result in an infiltration of other parts of the lower urinary tract.

Metastasis (spreading of the cancer) is a common phenomenon for carcinomas, with cancer frequently moving to associated lymph nodes and the lungs. Along with transitional cell carcinomas, other types of bladder cancer in dogs are squamous cell carcinoma, fibrosarcomas, adenocarcinomas, rhabdomyosarcomas and osteosarcomas. These may also occur as secondary bladder cancers, which means the cancer spread from another area of the body to the bladder.

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Clinical Symptoms of Bladder Cancer in Dogs

Dog bladder cancer causes severe uropathy (urinary tract disorders) and commonly, intractable secondary bacterial infections. Thus the clinical symptoms resemble a urinary tract infection.

The most common canine bladder cancer symptoms include painful urination, difficult urination and blood mixed in the urine. An owner might observe a change in the pattern of urination. Urination may become more frequent, but with a reduced volume every time the dog urinates. If a secondary bacterial infection has taken hold, then mucous will be mixed into the dog's urine.

An obstruction in the urinary bladder is one of the most common symptoms caused by cancerous masses. The urinary bladder may become enlarged and uremia (when urinary waste products are found in the blood) then may become more common. Dogs will experience severe abdominal pain, with conditions becoming more complicated if secondary bacteria invades the bladder.

Diagnosis of Canine Bladder Cancer

Symptoms and a dog's history can suggest the presence of a dog urinary tract disease, but it is never possible to confirm bladder cancer in dog clinically from symptoms alone. The recurrence of clinical symptoms after repeated symptomatic therapies and the presence of severe abdominal pain associated with urinary tract problems should be suspected for a possible cancerous development.

A detailed urinalysis and the use of advanced techniques such as a biopsy can help when confirming the presence of disease. An examination of the urine can confirm the presence of cancerous tissues in the urine. Secondary intractable bacterial infections can also suggest possible cancerous development.

A cystourethrogram, urethrogram or ultrasonography can help in estimating the size, anatomical and morphological changes in a canine urinary bladder. Moreover, metastasis or the spread of the canine cancer is usually estimated through the use of radiography.

Treatment of Bladder Cancer in Dogs

If possible, surgical removal of any tumors or cancerous tissues is the most effective mode of treatment. It is very important that the location and severity of cancerous development should be confirmed prior to undergoing an operation. Transitional cell carcinomas usually occur at the part of the canine bladder called the trigone of the bladder.

Chemotherapy on the other hand, using drugs such ascisplatin and piroxicam, can be effective and can prolong the life of affected dogs, and those in which metastasis has occurred, although this approach has not been identified as a prioritized and approved treatment option for bladder cancer in dogs.

Natural remedies and drugs used for symptomatic treatments are effective only if cancerous tissues have been eliminated. In the case of a dog with bladder cancer that is incurable, chemotherapeutics and natural remedies which contain anti-oxidants such as C-Caps Formula can help, but only in improving the quality of life and provide some help in prolonging the lifespan of the dog. Other natural remedies such as UTI-Free Formula, can provide added bladder support, especially in dogs with severe symptoms.

Due to the metastasis or potential of the cancer to spread, and the recurrence of cancerous tissues, the prognosis for dogs with bladder cancer is unfortunately considered “poor”.

References

Merck Veterinary Manual (Merck & Co. 2008)

R. K. Sharma, et all. Pathology of Cancer (Sudhant Press, India. 2005)

Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Morrison, Wallace B. “Cancer in Dogs and Cats” –1998