A diagnosis of canine leiomysarcoma refers to cancer of the gastrointestinal system. Painful and sometimes fatal, it's fortunately relatively rare. This type of cancer doesn't have any particular breed predisposition, but usually occurs in dogs about the age of 9. If your dog is diagnosed with leiomyoma, breathe a sigh of relief. That type of tumor is benign.
Sarcoma refers to cancers of the soft tissues. Leimyosarcomas start out in the dog's smooth muscle cells -- those in the internal organs. They are usually singular tumors, rather than multiple. According to the District of Columbia Academy of Veterinary Medicine, approximately 30 percent of leimyosarcomas metastasize, or spread. Those leimyosarcomas starting out in the gastrointestinal system often metastasize to the liver, kidneys or spleen. In the gastrointestinal system itself, these tumors can develop from the end of the dog receiving food to the end excreting it, and anywhere in between.
Symptoms of leiomysarcoma include vomiting and diarrhea, blood in the feces, weight loss, frequent stomach rumbling or noises, stomach distension, flatulence and appetite loss. Your dog might experience difficulty completing a bowel movement, doing a lot of straining while producing little in the way of stool. He might appear in obvious pain.
Your vet examines your dog physically, as well as conducting blood and urine tests. It's possible she can palpate the tumor during the physical exam. She might perform an endoscopy of your dog's stomach and intestines, using a special tube to view the gastrointestinal system. Your vet might take X-rays and ultrasounds of your dog's abdomen, looking for changes in the thickness of the intestinal and stomach walls.
If the tumor is caught early and hasn't spread, surgical removal offers a good prognosis. Since the tumor usually affects older dogs, a median survival time of 2.5 to 3 years means the animal dies in old age. If the tumor has metastasized, dogs might live as long as eight months or die shortly after surgery. Your vet might also recommend dietary changes and prescribe food specifically designed for easy digestibility.
- petMD: Leiomyosarcoma of Stomach, Small and Large intestine in Dogs
- Veterinary Society of Surgical Oncology: Small Intestinal Leiomyoma and Leiomysarcoma
- National Canine Cancer Foundation: Soft Tissue Sarcomas
- District of Columbia Academy of Veterinary Medicine: From Top to Bottom -- Canine Gastronintestinal Tumors
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