Lumpectomy in dogs and cats is a surgical veterinary procedure to remove an abnormal growth or mass on the skin surface or below the skin. Lumps can appear anywhere on the surface skin of your pet, as well as be encapsulated or invasive and attached to underlying tissue or structure. Some lumps are benign, while others can be malignant, so a biopsy and diagnostics is important to fully and properly treat your pet. If the lump is determined to be benign, treatment is usually limited to surgical removal and follow up aftercare. If the lump is diagnosed as malignant, in addition to surgical removal of the lump, medical treatment may be necessary to treat any other conditions and/or to keep the condition from progressing.
Lumpectomy and Diagnostics
Before performing the lumpectomy, we will perform a complete physical exam and also palpate the mass to determine its size, location, degree of invasiveness and consistency. We will also see if the lump is painful to your pet and palpate local lymph nodes for enlargement, which could suggest the mass has spread to these lymph nodes.
To determine the contents of the lump prior to removal, a fine needle aspiration and cytology can be performed. We insert a small needle into the mass and draw out some cells with a syringe. This is a simple procedure that carries little risk, and may help in the diagnosis. Since only a few cells are acquired via this method, an accurate diagnosis is not always made with this test. A biopsy may be necessary for a more definitive diagnosis.
When necessary, we will also biopsy the tissue from the lump once it is removed from your dog or cat. Biopsies generally are invasive procedures that require general anesthesia, however they are also important in determining the nature of the lump that your pet has on their skin or body. The biopsy results will tell what type of tumor it is and whether it is benign or malignant.
Radiographs (x-rays) of the chest or body may be indicated if the mass is suspected or confirmed to be malignant to see if the mass has spread to the lungs or other areas of your pet’s body. If the mass is near a bony structure, such as the limb or toe, radiographs can help us determine if the mass invades the bone and what treatment is necessary to help your pet on the road to recovery.
Traditionally, general anesthesia and surgery are required to perform the lumpectomy. Both the lump and some surrounding tissue are removed to ensure the entire mass is extricated. In some case, tumors can extend microscopically very far beyond the primary mass, making it necessary to remove a large area of tissue around the primary lump.
Proper aftercare is important in the recovery of your dog or cat after their lumpectomy. Each case is unique, and we take great care to provide your pet a full exam prior to surgery and a detailed follow up post-op so that we can work together to determine the best course of action and long term treatment for you and your pet.