The appearance of a growth is often unsettling, as it raises questions on what to do for the best going forward.
The main considerations when deciding whether to remove an abnormal lump as soon as possible, or to monitor for a while first, are as follows:
1. Is the mass likely to be malignant?
If so, it is best removed quickly to limit the potential for local reoccurrence, and spread to other parts of the body.
A biopsy (fine needle aspirate - FNA) is often helpful as a first step, to confirm the diagnosis and also the need for immediate surgery.
2. Is it more likely to be benign?
If a growth is:
- slow growing, intact (not ulcerated)
- well-defined (clear margins between it and adjacent, normal tissue) and
- not angry looking, friable or inflamed
it is reasonable to monitor for some time, as long as it is not causing any problems.
If there is a significant change in size or appearance however (especially if this happens quickly), then it is better to act sooner rather than later. A biopsy (fine needle aspirate - FNA) is helpful in determining whether it is safe to watch and wait or if prompt intervention is the better option.
3. Where is it?
If a tumour is located near vital structures (important blood vessels or nerves, for example), even if it is benign it can cause serious problems (such as haemorrhage or paralysis). In these circumstances, early removal where possible helps to avoid future complications developing.
The same is true if a growth is likely to become traumatised and infected on a regular basis, as is often the case when tumours appear in the mouth, on feet, in the rectum and similar parts of the body.
4. How much more difficult will removal be, if a cancer is left?
It's fairly easy to excise small growths in most parts of the body, as there is usually enough loose tissue in the surrounding area to close the incision. This becomes much harder however, the larger a mass becomes - especially where skin or mucous membranes are tight to the underlying tissues (as is the case on the lower limbs or in the mouth, for example).
And when a surgical site has to be left open, healing is slower and the risk of infection higher.
In such cases, early surgery reduces the risk of these and other problems.
Whenever a tumour appears in a previously healthy pet - whether this be a malignant cancer or a wart - it means the immune system for some reason has lost the ability to detect and destroy abnormal cells, and keep the body cancer free.
This being the case, it is vital if quality of life is to be maintained for as long as possible, that the body's natural defence mechanisms - especially the white blood cells responsible for anti-tumour activity - receive maximum nutritional support.
With this in mind, the first supplement to add to the diet is Immunity.
For maximum benefits, it is best to give half the recommended daily dose to begin with, divided between meals. After 7 days, if the stools remain well-formed and health otherwise good, it can be increased to the full dose. In week 3, if the stools continue to remain well-formed and health otherwise good, the amount of Immunity can be doubled. The larger and / or more malignant a growth is, the more important it is to continue supplementing at this level, and to also add Vitality followed by Digestion, repeating the process described above.
Dietary changes, detoxification, avoidance of common chemicals and other measures are also important in combating tumours.
To receive instructions on how to provide a complete programme of care to a pet with a growth(s), sign up to a Vince the Vet Cancer Support Diet Raw or Home-cooked here.