Lumps and Bumps
- It is very important to see the vet if your pet develops a lump under the skin.
- Some lumps appear very quickly such as an abscess or a bite or malignant tumours but some lumps grow very slowly such as benign tumours.
- Usually the vet can easily diagnose bites or abscesses.
- Bites are commonly treated with anti-inflammatories and antibiotics.
- Abscesses, which are more common in cats, usually need lancing to drain out the infection before being treated.
- Allergic reactions are another type of rapidly occurring lump. They often take the form of multiple lumps all over the body and are usually treated with anti-histamines, just like hayfever in humans.
- Lumps which change size are most likely to be hernias. These can occur in various places on the body but the most common are umbilical hernias in kittens and puppies. Hernias require surgical treatment to repair them.
- By far the largest group of lumps are caused by cancer. Cancer can be benign or malignant.
- Benign tumours tend to be slow growing and do not spread to other areas of the body. However, they can still become very large and can cause the skin to ulcerate or interfere with limb movement.
- Probably the most common type of benign mass is called the lipoma. These are lumps formed from fat and can occur on any part of the body under the skin. They are seen most commonly in overweight dogs.
- Malignant lumps are much more aggressive. They tend to grow more quickly and unless cut out rapidly, can spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs.
- It is very important that lumps are checked out early so the vet can assess the best course of action.
- If the vet suspects that the lump is benign a good way of checking this is with a fine needle aspirate (FNA). This is when a needle and syringe are used to suck up some cells from the mass. These can be looked at under a microscope to see if they are suspicious.
- Sometimes the vet may want to biopsy or excise the mass straight away. It can then be sent of for histopathology so the exact type of cancer can be identified. In cases of malignant lumps, the vet may need to perform another operation to ensure all the mass has been removed.
The sooner a lump is checked, the better!