Osteosarcoma: Bone Tumour in Dogs

We have talked about oral tumours before, in which there are a few that invades the bones or originate from them. However, these tumours can occur elsewhere in the body.

Tumours that involve musculoskeletal system are often challenging both medically and in client communications. This is due to the fact that most musculoskeletal tumours involve radical surgery removing a relatively large portion of the body or often amputation.

In dogs, the most common primary bone tumour is osteosarcoma (OSA), which accounts for 98% of malignancies originating in the skeleton. It is usually a disease of middle aged and older dogs, and is more likely to be in large and giant breeds, namely Rottweilers and Scottish deer-hounds in particular. Intact males and females are twice the risk for OSA (Ru et al.1998). The most common affected site is the distal radius and proximal humerus in the forelimb, and distal femur, distal tibia and proximal tibia in the hind limb; having the forelimb affected twice as often as the hind limb. This is very different in cats, primary bone tumours are rare in cats, and even a situation occurred, it would more often be in hind limbs. Regardless of which bone tumours, early detection benefits the course of the treatment. Early signs of a bone tumour usually include pain, limping, swelling, which often might be confused with other musculoskeletal problems. Radiographs and even biopsy or other imaging are needed to confirm diagnosis. Sometimes in early stage of the disease, radiograph may not be sensitive enough and the procedure needs to be repeated in a few weeks. In my experience, most bone tumours are straight forward in the medical and surgical planning, it is the communication with clients that is the main trivia. As said before, most owners are concerned about amputation and worried about cosmetic, function and mobility. But in reality, most animals do well after amputation or sometimes even double amputation. Most animals resume normal life a few days after surgery.

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