Dogs and Skin Cancer (cont.)

Treatment Options for Dog Skin Cancer

The treatment depends upon the type of tumor and its location.

Surgery is often the first step for malignant melanomas. If the melanoma cannot be removed in its entirety or if it has spread to nearby lymph nodes, radiation is commonly used. In these situations, the cancer may go into remission nearly 70% of the time, though recurrence is common. Chemotherapy is often used in combination with surgery and/or radiation therapy. There is also a vaccine that causes the dog's own immune system to attack tumor cells, which often successfully extends the survival time of dogs with oral melanoma.

Squamous cell carcinomas can often be removed surgically, with no need for radiation or chemotherapy. If the tumors occur in inoperable locations, photodynamic therapy and the use of a drug called piroxicam may be beneficial.

Dog mast cell tumors are best treated by surgical removal with or without radiation therapy, depending on the size and location of the skin cancer. Based on the grade of the cancer and the degree to which it has spread, chemotherapy and/or steroids may be used as well.


Veterinary Information Network web site, “Sun exposure in dogs.”

Veterinary Information Network web site, “Malignant melanoma.”

National Canine Cancer Foundation web site, “Squamous cell carcinoma.”

National Canine Cancer Foundation web site, “Melanoma-Melanocytic tumors.”

National Canine Cancer Foundation web site, “Mast Cell Tumors.”

American Animal Hospital Association web site, “Skin Cancer.”