As daunting as a nasal cancer diagnosis sounds, nasal cavity tumors are quite common in dogs. Cancer of the nose is less common in people, especially in comparison to dogs.
There aren't many risk factors when it comes to nasal cancer in dogs either. However, the one risk factor that pet owners should be aware of is long noses. There is also a correlation between nasal tumors and geriatric dogs.
Although not many risk factors are known, it's important to keep an eye out for any symptoms of nasal cancer in dogs, even in dogs that don't have long noses. Speaking of nasal cancer symptoms, let’s take a look at the many different signs that might indicate your dog has nasal cancer.
What Are the Symptoms of Nasal Cancer in Dogs?
When you adopt a puppy and bring home the newest canine companion of your family, the dream is to raise your new friend in the healthiest and happiest ways. Unfortunately, there are certain conditions that dogs can come down with that threaten their overall being.
One of these unfortunate interruptions of health is canine nasal cancer, otherwise known as cancer in the cavity of the dog's nose. We hope that you never find yourself asking the question, "Does my dog have nasal cancer?" But if cancer of this kind is the diagnosis, don't lose all hope.
Professionals are well equipped to handle cases of canine nasal cancer, and this is an important question to ask yourself because the best thing to do is be as proactive as possible. In order to be proactive about nasal cancer, you’ll need to know what to look out for!
Continuous nasal discharge
Some of the most prominent symptoms of nasal cancer include…
- Constantly sneezing
- Difficulty breathing when asleep
- Snoring more often and louder than usual
- Blood coming from the nose
- Facial irritation and obvious discomfort
- Changes in facial appearance
- Facial deformity
- Neurological issues such as seizures
- Nosebleeds that persist
- Misshapen nose and/or bulging eyeballs
- Itching or scratching their face
- Hard time catching their breath
- Frequent shortness of breath
One of the most telling signs of cancer in the nose of dogs is nasal discharge. At first, the nasal discharge might look like nothing more than a runny nose that goes away eventually, so you might not think anything of it at first. However, make a mental note to pay close attention to the nasal discharge.
If you notice one or more of these side effects, reach out to your dog’s primary veterinarian as soon as possible, and explain the symptoms that you’re seeing. The longer these side effects of nasal cancer are allowed to persist without intervention, the more dangerous the situation will become for your dog.
It’s important to note that none of these examples are a definite sign that your dog has nasal cancer, so keep that in mind if you notice that your dog is exhibiting these symptoms. They could be caused by something non-fatal or life-threatening, so try to stay calm and schedule an appointment with the vet. You’ll feel a lot better once the professionals have a look at the situation!
Nasal Cancer Tumor Types
Nasal cancer is often referred to more specifically as nasal cancer due to the exact location of the cancerous tumors that grow in the nose. Most often, the type of cancer that grows in the nasal cavity is either a sarcoma or a carcinoma. Let’s take a closer look at the few distinct differences between these two tumor types.
When looking at sarcomas in general, medical professionals distinguish between two separate types of sarcomas. These two types are osteosarcomas and soft tissue sarcomas. Essentially, the difference between the two is that soft tissue sarcomas are tumors that grow from within soft tissues, whereas osteosarcomas are denoted by cancerous cells that grow in the bones.
This often leads to bone erosion, especially when the sarcoma goes undetected over time. Sarcomas also pose a threat to the lymph nodes because the cancerous cells can infiltrate surrounding lymph nodes and spread to other parts of the body beyond the nose. When nasal cancer affects the lymph nodes, it is known as nasal lymphoma.
Nasal cancer carcinomas grow from the cells that make up the lining of the nose. Within the category of nasal carcinomas, there are three more specific tumor types, which include undifferentiated carcinomas, adenocarcinomas, and squamous cell carcinomas. Like all types of carcinomas, carcinomas in the nose of dogs form in the inner lining of the nasal cavity.
Nasal carcinomas make up a bigger percentage of nasal cancer in dogs than sarcomas do. There are upwards of fifty different subtypes of canine carcinomas, so the exact type that your dog is sick with will be determined by the veterinarian upon completion of the proper diagnostic tests.
How Nasal Cancer is Diagnosed
CT scans are quite a popular tool for diagnosing nasal cancer in dogs. The images produced from a CT scan allow the veterinarian to highlight and emphasize parts of the image that basic X-rays cannot display. Essentially, a CT scan is a more detailed X-ray so these are a majorly helpful part of diagnosing nasal cancer in dogs. The diagnostic process of canine nasal tumors typically starts with a physical exam. This allows the vet to take a fully inclusive look at all parts of your dog to see if symptoms of a cancerous nasal tumor are popping up beyond the nasal cavity.
From a CT scan to an MRI, and other X-ray options in between, some form of imaging is often ordered during the diagnosing process of canine nasal tumors as well.
These imaging options expand the reach that vets can gather about a nasal tumor because they go beyond what the vets can see with their own eyes from outside of your dog's body. Imaging techniques are able to offer a detailed and conclusive look inside your dog's nose cavity in a way that a physical exam can't provide.
Additionally, one of the most vital tests that are beneficial for diagnosing nasal tumors is a biopsy. A tissue biopsy of the nasal tumor allows the vet to understand the makeup, severity, and intensity of the cancerous cells.
How to Treat Nasal Cancer in Dogs
There are various treatment options for dogs with nasal cancer. The sooner treatment is received, the more likely it is that the dog will make a full recovery. The two most common types of treatment for nasal tumors are chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy for Nasal Cancer
Chemotherapy is a frequently implemented treatment option for dogs with this type of cancer. Unfortunately, due to how intense chemotherapy is, the medications often cause really negative side effects.
Some of these side effects include nausea, vomiting, a decrease in hunger levels, and little to no appetite altogether. Dogs that receive chemotherapy also exhibit high levels of fatigue, rapid hair loss, a reduction in red blood cells, a greater risk of getting infections, and digestive problems, among many other discomforts.
Even though the side effects of chemotherapy are difficult on the body, the potent medication has proven to be quite successful. Chemotherapy is often part of a two-part treatment plan, with radiation therapy following suit right behind chemo.
Radiation Therapy for Nasal Tumors
Radiation therapy typically follows chemotherapy because radiation therapy is designed to absolutely obliterate any cells in its wake. Even though this means that radiation therapy also kills healthy cells, the primary focus is that the cancerous cells are destroyed as well. Usually, radiation therapy is ordered in addition to chemotherapy when the nasal tumor is either already in a late stage of cancer or it is growing rapidly.
The goal of radiation therapy is to not only get rid of the cancerous tumor but also prevent cancerous cells from growing back and forming yet another tumor in its place. The medical term for cancer that grows back is neoplasia, so if a dog experiences a resurgence of nose cancer, it is referred to as nasal cavity neoplasia.
Radiation therapy is a powerful treatment option so it is not prescribed for all situations of canine nasal tumors. It's often reserved for dogs that are facing more severe tumors than others. Radiation treatment emits strong energy that targets the cancer cells. Otherwise known as a radiation field, these energies combine both heat and lighting to kill cancerous cells that are posing a threat to your dog’s well being.
The radiation field that your dog is treated with will depend on how intensive the radiation therapy needs to be, as well as whether the radiation field is being implemented after chemotherapy or if it’s being administered as a singular treatment option. There are various degrees so the exact radiation field applied to your dog’s tumor will be specifically tailored to your dog.
Median Survival Rate of Dogs with Nasal Tumors
The survival rate of dogs with nasal tumors depends fully on the size and intensity of the nasal tumor. On average, the median survival rate is approximately ninety-five days if treatment is not sought.
That being said, the median survival rate changes ever so slightly depending on the type of treatment administered. For example, dogs that only receive radiation therapy as a treatment for their nasal tumor often survive for upwards of two years. Additionally, the seriousness of the symptoms can affect the median survival time as well.