Saturday, June 29, 2024

Mast Cell Tumors: Differences Between Cats & Dogs


Mast Cell Tumors
Mast cells play an important role in your pet's immune system. They are a type of immune system cell that plays a role in allergic reactions and inflammation. Mast cells contain granules filled with histamine and other chemicals that are released when the cell is activated, leading to symptoms such as itching, swelling, and redness. 
In cats and dogs, mast cell tumors can develop. These are abnormal growths of mast cells that can be benign or malignant. These tumors can cause local symptoms at the site or more systemic effects if they spread to other parts of the body. Early detection and treatment are important for managing mast cell tumors in pets.
The Role Of Mast Cells In Pet Health

Mast cells are found throughout the body, particularly in the skin, respiratory tract, and digestive system. Their primary function is to detect and respond to foreign substances or pathogens, like bacteria, viruses, and allergens. When activated, mast cells release histamine and cytokines, which help to initiate and coordinate the body's immune response. 


In addition to their role in immune defense, mast cells also contribute to wound healing, tissue repair, and blood vessel formation. They are essential for maintaining balance and protecting the body from harmful invaders. However, when mast cells become dysregulated or undergo abnormal growth, they can form mast cell tumors (MCTs).

Understanding Mast Cell Tumors (MCTs)


Mast cell tumors (MCTs) are one of the most common forms of cancer in dogs and can also affect cats. These tumors arise from mast cells and can vary widely in appearance, but they often present as raised lumps or bumps on the skin. They may resemble small nodules or growths that can be firm or soft to the touch. While some MCTs may initially appear similar to pimples or skin tags, it's important to note that not all lumps or bumps on the skin are MCTs. 


Some features that may indicate a possible MCT include:


Rapid Growth: MCTs can grow quickly and changes in size over a short period may be a cause for concern.


Ulceration: Some MCTs may become ulcerated, meaning the skin overlying the tumor breaks open, leading to bleeding or discharge.


Redness or Inflammation: Inflammation or discoloration of the skin surrounding the mass may be present, particularly if the tumor is causing irritation or inflammation.


Itching or Discomfort: Pets may exhibit signs of discomfort or itching in the area of the tumor.


It is important to have any new or changing lumps or bumps on your pet's skin evaluated by a veterinarian. MCTs can range from benign (non-cancerous) to malignant (cancerous). Diagnosis typically involves a combination of physical examination, fine needle aspiration, and/or biopsy to determine the nature of the mass. Early detection and treatment of MCTs can improve the outcome for any pet. 


Similarities Between MCTs In Cats & Dogs



While MCTs can develop in both cats and dogs, they are more frequently diagnosed in dogs, particularly in certain breeds such as Boxers, Bulldogs, and Labradors. In both species, MCTs usually appear as raised, pinkish lumps on the skin, although they can also present as ulcers or areas of inflammation. Early detection through routine skin checks is essential for prompt diagnosis and treatment.




Differences Between MCTs In Cats & Dogs


siamese cat

Mast cell tumors (MCTs) present differently in cats and dogs. Cats are more likely to develop MCTs in areas with minimal hair, such as the head and neck.  Mast cell tumors in cats can be internal, occuring primarily in the spleen and intestines. 


In contrast,  mast cell tumors in dogs can appear anywhere on the body, with common sites including the skin and the layer of tissue located just beneath the skin (subcutaneous).


Treatment approaches may vary between the two species. Dogs often undergo surgery as the primary treatment, sometimes followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy. In cats, treatment may require a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, particularly for internal or more advanced tumors.