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Canine Prostate Cancer

Issue Description
Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancer develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. It occurs when cells of the prostate mutate and begin to multiply out of control. These cells may spread (metastasize) from the prostate to other parts of the body, especially the bones and lymph nodes.
Other Names
Prostrate Cancer

The cause of canine prostate cancer is unknown.

The first noticeable symptoms of prostate cancer in dogs are normally urinary and bowel difficulties. There may be blood in the urine, painful urination, or continual straining to urinate. These symptoms often mimic a bladder infection as the cancerous prostate gland enlarges and affects the bladder and urethra. In advanced cases of prostate cancer, symptoms include lethargy, decreased appetite, depression, pain, and weakness in the back legs.

Two of the most common symptoms of canine prostate cancer include general pain and weight loss. The prostate gland will become enlarged and push against the wall of your dog's urethra. This will make it very difficult for him to urinate and blood may be present in the urine. Also, canine prostate cancer usually weakens a dog's hind legs. You may notice that your dog has an arched back and takes shorter steps while walking.

Initial diagnosis of prostate cancer in dogs is done by using x-rays and abdominal ultrasound, and testing urine samples. If cancer is suspected, a biopsy of the rectal wall is necessary for a conclusive diagnosis.

Unfortunately, options of canine prostate cancer treatment are limited. Surgical removal of the prostate is not recommended in dogs because complications such as urinary incontinence can arise. Very often, only chemotherapy is recommended to try to shrink the prostate. However, even this treatment is far from effective and usually fails to give the dog patient any relief of discomfort. It also does not significantly extend the patient's life.

As prostate cancer is highly aggressive, and symptoms do not normally appear until the cancer has become advanced, prognosis for this cancer is very poor. Surgery for prostate cancer is often unsuccessful, and it is a very difficult surgery to perform. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are often unsuccessful as well in advanced cases. In addition, strong doses of chemotherapy and radiation are needed to combat this cancer, and the dog's health and quality of life can become severely affected by these therapies.

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