Mast Cell Tumours

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Mast Cell Tumours

Mast Cell Tumours are among the most commonly found tumours in domestic pets and have been described as 'The Great Pretender' as they can look like multiple different tumours and can vary hugely in their appearance and indeed prognosis.

Mast Cell Tumours are named as such due to the cells they are derived from. Mast cells are normal cells distributed throughout the body and are a normal part of a healthy immune system. However, if these cells start to grow out of control a mast cell tumour may result.

Mast cell tumours are most commonly found on the skin but can sometimes occur in the spleen, liver and bone marrow. If one of our vets considers a 'lump' on the skin potentially a mast cell tumour then they will advise removal of the whole lump or biopsy of part of it to see if it is a mast cell tumour and to determine how active it is.

Mast cell tumours themselves can be very low grade and in these circumstances the removal of the mass and its surrounding tissue may be the only treatment that is required.  However, in some instances they can be extremely aggressive and therefore once the tumour has been confirmed we will often want to carry our tests to determine the 'stage' of the tumour. This may involve XRays, ultrasound scans, biopsies or 'fine needle aspirates' as well as blood tests.

The more aggressive or active mast cell tumours may require more intensive treatment using chemotherapy or pills that your pet can take to reduce the size of the lump before it is removed.

It's important to never ignore any suspiscious lumps either on the skin or elsewhere in the body.  As far as mast cell tumours are concerned, the sooner they are completely removed the better.