Sunday, September 12, 2010

What Are Sebaceous Tumors, and is Your Dog at Risk?

By Suzanne Alicie

If you have dogs, you’ve probably heard what sounds like a terribly frightening name for a condition that is common in dogs. Sebaceous tumors are known by a few different names: sebaceous gland cysts, sebaceous cysts, benign sebaceous cysts and gland tumors.

The word tumor strikes fear into the heart of a responsible pet owner, especially if you have never dealt with this condition and aren’t aware of what you are dealing with. These tumors or tumor-like conditions that affect the sebaceous glands are quite common in dogs.  In the veterinary world, and also in human medicine, a classification system is in place that names all benign sebaceous gland tumors as sebaceomas. Yes, humans can develop these tumors as well. The word benign generally means that the tumor is non-cancerous and not likely to spread to another part of the body.

A sebaceoma is nothing more than a purposeless and disordered growth of cells in the sebaceous gland. The function of the sebaceous gland is to lubricate hair and skin, and they are attached to hair follicles. This can lead to a buildup of sebum that is somewhat like a large pustule. These sebaceous cysts can be drained by your veterinarian at which time they will likely discover the tumor. Typically all sebaceous tumors are considered benign, as occurrences of malignant tumors are very rare.

Sebaceomas are often mistaken for warts and tend to occur in middle aged or older animals. Often if a dog has one tumor he likely has others in different areas of his body. These are most often found on the head. A sebaceous tumor is generally shaped similarly to a wart with a protruding mass extending from a narrow base. Because these tumors can cause itching and annoyance, they can become inflamed, ulcerated and infected if they happen to be in an area your dog can scratch.

To achieve an accurate diagnosis, it is important to take your dog to a vet where samples of the cells can be tested. The only way to cure these tumors is to have the lump surgically removed. However, these tumors are not infectious, and will not be transmitted to other pets or people.

When it comes to the question of whether your dog is at risk, there are no strict guidelines on which breeds typically develop sebaceomas, but the age of your dog is a key as to when to begin watching for a sebaceous tumor. Petting and brushing your dog, as well as feeling their skin when you bathe them will help you locate them, and you can then have any tumors or cysts checked by your vet to rule out cancer.

There are many different conditions that can affect your dog’s skin and create small bumps and lumps. As with any medical condition, you should take your dog to a professional to have any tumors or cysts that you find checked. Cancer is not uncommon in dogs, and pet owners should not attempt to make a diagnosis on their own.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for describing the condition that was diagnosed by our veterinarian. I am trying to decide if my dog's toe should be amputated.


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