Prostatic Adenocarcinoma in Dogs
The prostate gland is an important part of the male reproductive system. It contains many valuable and essential enzymes, including calcium and citric acid,and also plays an important role in the protection and motility of sperm. The liquid secreted by the prostate gland aids in the liquefaction of semen after ejaculation, and in the protection of sperm in the vagina.
Adenocarcinoma is a malignant tumor originating in the glandular tissue, in this case the tissue of the prostate gland, with the capability for growing and metastasizing rapidly to other parts and organs of body, including the lungs, bones, and lymph nodes. Prostatic adenocarcinoma is seen in both intact and neutered dogs, representing about one percent of all malignant tumors found in dogs. This disease can develop in any breed, but it most commonly affects large breeds, and like most carcinomas, it affects older dogs between the ages of 9-10 years.
Symptoms and Types
In adenocarcinoma of the prostate, the symptoms may vary depending upon the presence, extent, and location of metastasis to other parts of the body. Following are the symptoms commonly seen in adenocarcinoma of prostate:
- Ribbon-shaped stool
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Difficulty in passing urine
- Complete urine blockage
- Pain, especially when the area of prostate is touched
- Difficult breathing
- Idiopathic – the exact cause is still unknown
- Hormonal imbalance is suggested as one possible cause
You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including a background history of symptoms. Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination on your dog, including blood tests and a biochemistry profile. Urine tests are an important part of the diagnostic process. The urine will be examined for the presence of white blood cells, infection, and malignant cells. Abdominal radiographs and ultrasonography will also be performed to view the symmetry, size, and outline of the prostate gland. Prostate tissue will also be taken by prostatic biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
There is no single definitive treatment for dogs with adenocarcinoma of the prostate gland. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are sometime the chosen therapy for dogs and may increase the survival time. Treatment should be conducted and supervised by a veterinary oncologist. Due to the close association of the prostate gland with the urethra, removal of the prostate gland by surgery is difficult and mostly unrewarding. In addition, postoperative complications are high and difficult to manage. An alternative solution to disorders of the prostate, castration, does not help with adenocarcinoma of the prostate, as this tumor does not respond well afterward.
Living and Management
For dogs suffering from adenocarcinoma of the prostate, many face permanent difficulties with urination and defecation. Inability to urinate and defecate properly is often accompanied by severe pain, restlessness and great discomfort. Observe your dog especially during its urination and defecation routines and inform your veterinarian if your dog is not able to pass urine or feces effectively. Follow your veterinarian’s guidelines, especially in giving chemotherapeutic agents at home. Many chemotherapeutic agents can be hazardous to your health if not handled properly; consult with your veterinarian on the best handling practices. During this period you can improve your dog’s quality of life by providing extra comfort and affection.
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