With any sort of illness, being aware of the cause can bring a lot of understanding and comfort because you're not left with an unanswered question. Unfortunately, when it comes to testicular cancer in dogs, the cause is not fully known.
Before we say anything further, it's important to note that prostate cancer and testicular cancer are two different types of cancer in dogs. Since the prostate gland is close to the testicles, it is not rare that a dog will initially receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer that is later revealed as testicular cancer.
However, despite a lack of clarity surrounding the cause of testicular tumors, there is still a lot of public information about cancer in male canine testicles, including the types of canine testicular tumors.
Three main types of testicular tumors in dogs.
Interstitial Cell Tumors
The main differentiating factor between these cell tumors and seminomas is their origin. They all develop from different sources. Interstitial cell tumors, for example, stem from Leydig cells, which are responsible for producing testosterone in dogs when a hormone called LH is present. These tumors are the more common type of cell tumors in canine testicles.
Sertoli Cell Tumors
Sertoli cell tumors stem from canine Sertoli cells, which aid in the production of sperm in male canine testicles. Similar to Leydig cells, Sertoli cell tumors arise in situations where a hormone known as FSH is present.
Seminomas come from the cells that create sperm in a dog's reproductive system. These cells are known as germ cells. In the formative stages, testicular cell tumors and seminomas are different, but they share many similar side effects.
Symptoms of Testicular Tumors in Dogs
Testicular tumors lead to many physical symptoms that reveal themselves over time. One main symptom of testicular tumors is weight loss. Another side effect of testicular tumors is hair loss, and a third symptom is the swelling of mammary glands.
Testicular tumors can also cause the lymph nodes to swell up and make dogs look puffy. Lymph nodes are located all over a dog's body, and the swelling usually occurs near the location of the cancerous cells, so keep an eye out for puffiness near your dog's testicles.
How Testicular Cancer is Diagnosed
When the number of WBC is lower than usual, it might indicate that cancer has entered into the canine's bone marrow. Even if it’s not showing signs of disease, the low WBC count is worth noting. There are many different ways that veterinarians check dogs for testicular cancer. One of the most common methods of diagnosing this is by ordering a complete blood count exam. A blood count of the white blood cells (WBC) speaks volumes when diagnosing canine testicular cancer.
Other testing options for formally diagnosing cancer of the testicles in dogs include —
- A urinalysis
- A chest exam
- An abdominal radiograph
- Other types of X-rays
- An abdominal ultrasound
- Needle aspirations of suspicious tumor
- A scrotal ultrasound
- Biopsy of the testicles
- A full biochemistry profile
An abdominal ultrasound is one of the most crucial tests when diagnosing testicular cancer in dogs. An abdominal ultrasound is a fantastic tool because it will reveal underlying issues contributing to the situation. If your dog doesn't have a testicular illness, an ultrasound will show what the problem is.
Can Dogs Get Testicular Cancer?
Even though the topic at hand is testicular tumors in dogs, there are people out there who still question the possibility of dogs getting this type of disease. In fact, not only can male dogs get testicular cancer, but it is rather common as well.
Testicular disease in dogs is more common for older canines than younger ones. It is well known that all dogs can contract testicular tumors, though the underlying reason for the high rate is unknown.
Despite the prevalence of cancerous tumors in the testicles of male dogs, there is no real information surrounding the causes behind canine testicular tumors. In years to come, after further research is done, more should be known about the exact cause.
How to Treat Testicular Cancer in Dogs
Just like other forms of cancer, testicular tumors are treated in uniquely specific ways. The exact treatment plan for a dog with testicular tumors is going to vary depending on the specifics of the situation. Dogs with more advanced testicular tumors will receive more intense and aggressive treatment than male dogs that have more mild and smaller testicular tumors.
One of the options for treating dogs is a full-on surgical procedure to remove the tumor from the testicles. Medically, this is known as surgical castration. In other scenarios, dogs undergo a minor incision instead.
Radiation therapy usually follows surgery and medication because radiation therapy works to lower the chances that the cancerous cells will resurface. Chemotherapy is another treatment option.
Think back to when we mentioned that low white blood cell count could be a sign of testicular disease in dogs. This is an important detail when treatment options are being considered because it will affect whether or not chemotherapy is ordered for the dog.If there are fewer white blood cells than average, then chemotherapy might exacerbate the problem and pose a danger to the dog's bone marrow. Chemotherapy causes bone marrow to produce even fewer white blood cells than normal, putting the dog's WBC count at risk. So, veterinarians have to take a well-rounded approach to treat canine testicular cancer.