Virginia Veterinary Dentistry Because pets suffer dental pain, too!

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Oral Growths

One of these growths is benign. One is an aggressive cancer.


Can you tell which is which ?


The problem is that no one can tell just by looking. The growth on the left is a benign overgrowth of gum tissue. The smaller growth on the right is actually an aggressive cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. Invasive and malignant tumors usually require aggressive surgery and the outcome is best when the growth is diagnosed when it is small.  Don't "just watch it" or wait to "see if it changes". Have it tested! Soon!


Oral growths are common in dogs and cats. Some are inflamed pieces of gum tissue and are not a threat to life, but many are aggressive, life-threatening cancers. Even some benign tumors can be very destructive where they grow, invading bone and other oral structures. Early detection and diagnosis is not easy because the growth is hidden by the lips or tongue. Regrettably, by the time an oral growth is noticed, it has usually grown fairly large, making treatment more complicated.


Any abnormal growth of tissue should be evaluated and usually a small sample should be sent to a lab for analysis. It is critical that dangerous and destructive tumors be identified when they are small. Since the first and most effective management tool is surgical removal, the smaller the tumor the less aggressive the surgery might be.


As the case pictured on the left shows, age is not a major factor in trying to determine whether a growth is benign or malignant. This 4-month old pup had a fast-growing cancer that required aggressive surgery.


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Virginia Veterinary Dentistry
 Charlottesville, Virginia
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