Issue Description Oral cancer is any cancerous tissue growth
located in the mouth. It may arise as a primary lesion originating in
any of the oral tissues, by metastasis from a distant site of origin,
or by extension from a neighboring anatomic structure, such as the
nasal cavity or the maxillary sinus. Oral cancers may originate in any
of the tissues of the mouth, and may be of varied histologic types:
teratoma, adenocarcinoma derived from a major or minor salivary gland,
lymphoma from tonsillar or other lymphoid tissue, or melanoma from the
pigment producing cells of the oral mucosa.
Types Of Oral Cancer Melanosarcoma (malignant melanoma)This tumor usually arises on the mucous
membranes of the gums and commonly spreads to regional lymph nodes and
other parts of the body, especially the lungs and the kidneys.
Melanosarcoma may also develop, although less commonly, on the lips,
tongue and hard palate. This cancer mostly develops in older dogs;
males are affected more often than females. The prognosis is improved
by definitive and early surgical removal. Radiation and chemotherapy
are used sometimes after surgery, especially if complete surgical
excision is not possible. In general, however, the prognosis is
considered to be poor to fair.
Squamous Cell CarcinomaIs a bit less common than melanosarcoma. It
also tends to occur on the front aspect of the lower jaw, but does not
tend to spread to distant areas unless it arises on the tonsils or
tongue. Involvement of the tongue and tonsil is rather common. Males
and females are equally affected except in tonsillar tumor cases,
where male dogs are more likely to develop this lesion. Squamous cell
cancer occurs mostly in older dogs. It is often responsive to
radiation, and in some cases, hyperthermia (high temperatures).
However, treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsils and
tongue requires surgery as well. The prognosis is better for tumors
located on the front of the jaw than on the back of it; tumors of the
tonsils and tongue have a poorer prognosis than squamous cell cancer
of the gums and buccal mucosa. Tumors arising on the top jaw carry a
FibrosarcomaIs the next most common type of canine oral
cancer, occurring usually on the gums (gingivae) and occasionally on
the palate. It tends to occur in middle-aged dogs; males are more
commonly affected than females. These tumors rarely spread to other
areas, so the prognosis is better if they can be controlled locally
with surgery. However, the rate of tumor recurrence may exceed 20
percent. Radiation and hyperthermia treatments are sometimes employed
in addition to surgery. In general the prognosis is poor to fair.
Dental TumorsAre strictly local and never spread. They tend
to occur more frequently in females and in middle-aged to older dogs.
Dental tumors carry an excellent prognosis if removed surgically and
treated with radiation. These tumors can involve a large amount of
bone tissue and may be disfiguring, but since they are often on the
front of the jaw, surgery is often very successful. Dogs rarely die
from dental tumors.
Skin lesion, lump, or ulcer on the tongue,
lip, or other mouth area. Usually small. Most often pale colored, may
be dark or discolored. Early sign may be a white patch (leukoplakia)
or a red patch (erythroplakia) on the soft tissues of the mouth.
Usually painless initially.
May develop a burning sensation or pain when the tumor is
Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:
Mouth sores that do not resolve in 14 days.
Pain and paraesthesia are late symptoms.
Complete blood cell count, Chemistry
profile, Urinalysis are performed to evaluate the overall health of
Chest radiographs (x-rays) are used to help see if the tumor has
spread to the lungs.
Oral radiographs (x-rays) are taken of the tumor site to see how
invasive the tumor is in the bone.
Biopsy of the tumor - a small piece of the tumor is sent for
analysis by a pathologist to determine the type of tumor that is
present as this will give an idea on the prognosis.
If any lymph nodes are enlarged, a fine needle biopsy is done to
help determine if there is spread to the nodes.
After surgery has been completed, the entire tissue specimen is
sent to the lab to check the margins to ensure that all of the cancer
has been removed.
Treatment The traditional treatment options for jaw
cancer will be dictated by the location and extent of the primary
cancer, the presence and location of metastasis (spread), and the
specific cellular diagnosis of the cancer. In most cases surgical
removal is indicated. Some tumors may be treated with radiation;
others may be amenable to chemotherapy or immunotherapy. However,
these non-surgical treatments are typically more effective when only a
small number of tumor cells are present or when the tumor burden is
low (especially if only microscopic amounts of disease are present).
Postoperative disfigurement of the face,
head and neck.
Complications of radiation therapy, including dry mouth and