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General information

Neoplasias are a common problem in small animals veterinary. As a result of advances in equipments and researches on  feline and canine disease causes, neoplasia diagnosis are more frequent. Although we do not know exact figures of tumor incidence in cats and dogs, conservative estimates suggest that 10% will develop some variant of tumor during their lives. The small number of epidemiologic studies available are mostly focused on dogs. A postmortem study made in the USA in canine during year 2000 showed that cancer accounts for 23% of deaths, hence becoming the first decease cause. A more recent work in UK, based on a poll, gave the result that cancer was responsible for 16% of canine death. This result was equal for both genders, although heart diseases had a similar importance in castrated males

Another new research, also made in the UK, about tumor incidence in insured dogs gave updated information about tumor variants distribution

Findings showed that skin and soft tissues are the most common places for tumor development, followed by mammary gland, hematopoietic tissues (lymphoid included), urogenital apparatus, endocrine organs, digestive tube and oropharynx. These results are similar to the ones obtained by Dorn et al. in California, who made a probabilistic study combining neoplasia diagnosis data from several USA states and information about the histological study. This last was conducted in a central laboratory, in order to calculate the high-risk population. Skin, mammary gland and hematopoietic tissues were the most common places were cancer was found.
These three variants were benign. Most predominant type was cutaneous histiocitoma, followed by lipoma, adenoma, mastocytoma and lymphoma

There are not updated epidemiologic data in feline in the UK. In other studies, lymphoma and hematopoietic tumors were the most common types found, and much more frequent in this species than in canine. Although skin and soft tissue tumors are more important in cats, malignant neoplasias, such as squamous cell carcinoma or soft tissue sarcoma, seem to be more common than benign lesions. Breast tumors are less frequent in feline, but the percentage of malignant cases is bigger than in canine

Animal cancer treatment demand is growing, and it is probable that this tendency will continue in the close future, specially if more animals become insured in programs that include the treatment costs.

Conventional treatments, as in human, include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. This techniques do not need to be chosen independently. Actually, growing understanding of cancer biology has shown that combination of surgical removal of primary tumor followed by specific chemotherapy, is the most logic and potentially effective way to handle malignant tumors.

Confronting this disease in animals seeks prolonging the disease free time and survival, but it also tries to give the animal a better life quality. All methods should aim these objectives, and if it is considered that the animal is suffering, treatment interruption should be an option.