Primary Lung Tumors in Dogs and Cats

By Elizabeth Benson

What Are Primary Lung Tumors?

Primary lung tumors are tumors that originate in the lung tissue and infrequently spread to other sites of the body such as lung lobes, pleura (lining of the chest cavity) bones, and brain. Primary lung tumors are relatively uncommon, making up only about 1% of diagnosed tumors. It is much more common to see lung tumors that have originated from cancer in another region of the body.

Most animals with lung tumors present to their veterinarian for respiratory signs such as couching, difficult breathing, and exercise intolerance. Diagnosis is generally based on chest x-rays, needle aspirate of lung models also.

 

What Symptoms Can Present as the Disease Progresses?

Early stages:

  • Weight loss
  • Coughing
  • Exercise intolerance

Late stages:

  • Persistent early stages
  • Hacking and bloody mucus
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Reclusive behavior
  • Unable to rise
  • Visible distention of the chest

Crisis – Immediate veterinary assistance needed regardless of disease

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Prolonged seizures
  • Uncontrollable vomiting/diarrhea
  • Sudden collapse
  • Profuse bleeding – internal or external
  • Crying/whining from pain*

*It should be noted that most animals will instinctually hide their pain. Vocalization of any sort that is out of the ordinary for your pet may indicate that their pain and anxiety have become too much for them to bear. If your pet vocalizes due to pain or anxiety, please consult with your tending veterinarian immediately.

Common Signs of Pain

Panting, lameness, difficulty sleeping, pacing, abnormal posture, body tensing, poor grooming habits, tucked tail, dilated pupils, licking sore spot, muscle atrophy, decreased appetite, vocalizing/yowling, reclusive behavior, aggressive behavior, avoiding stairs/jumping, depressed, unable to stand.

How is a Primary Lung Tumor Treated?

For single lung nodules with no sign of spread anywhere else, surgical excision is generally recommended. For very large tumors or tumors that have invaded or spread to other areas, chemotherapy is recommended, in addition to surgical excision of the primary mass.

What is the prognosis for a Primary Lung Tumor?

Pets with small, less aggressive tumors without lymph node involvement have an average survival time of around 16 months with surgery alone. Pets with more aggressive tumors, including lymph node involvement, have an average survival time of 2 months. Because many patients will ultimately develop metastatic disease following surgery, chemotherapy is commonly recommended.

However, it is unknown whether the use of chemotherapy following surgery significantly improves survival over surgery alone. Tumors that are not surgically excisable or that have metastasized to other areas of the body will eventually progress affecting the animal’s ability to breathe.

A personalized treatment plan is important to slow the progression of lung cancer. Talk to your veterinarian regarding the best treatment protocol for your pet.

 

Testimonials

I can't recommend them enough. I had to say goodbye to my 21 year old cat companion. I read the reviews here on Yelp and chose Paws Into Grace and they made an unbearable situation not worse - from the people on the phone to the amazing doctor who... read more

Renee C.

My absolute love Dante had heart failure three months ago. After having him on many medications to help him, his enthusiasm and appetite declined last couple of days. He was in pain and we decided to help him go to heaven rather than torturing him... read more

Diane C.

I wanted to thank you for sending Dr. Brown to euthanize our beloved Myleigh on March 4, 2021. She was compassionate and accommodating, she explained every step of the procedure, and gave us some alone time with Myleigh after she sedated her, but... read more

Terry A.

Renee C.

I can't recommend them enough. I had to say goodbye to my 21 year old cat companion. I read the reviews here on Yelp and chose Paws Into Grace and they made an unbearable situation not worse - from the people on the phone to the amazing doctor who came out to the house. She was so understanding and supportive. They were all so helpful, understanding and nice. My girl got to stay at home and say goodbye in the backyard (a hummingbird flew over and it seemed like a good sign too). So glad I didn't have to take her to a cold vet office.

Diane C.

My absolute love Dante had heart failure three months ago. After having him on many medications to help him, his enthusiasm and appetite declined last couple of days. He was in pain and we decided to help him go to heaven rather than torturing him with more medications which would make him even more miserable. I called and spoke to a very kind lady who was patient as I cried through making an appointment. We made an appointment for 1:30pm. Dr. Toni arrived. She was very kind, explained everything to us and gave us the time to be with our boy after the first shot. He wasn't relaxing enough so she gave him a second shot. We stayed with him throughout the entire process and I carried him to her car in the end. It was a very difficult decision but knowing that our boy is not in pain, gives us some peace. We are thankful to Dr. Toni for her kindness and compassion. They will arrange the cremation for us. Since we are in a pandemic, we had our masks on and said goodbye to our boy in our garden.

Terry A.

I wanted to thank you for sending Dr. Brown to euthanize our beloved Myleigh on March 4, 2021. She was compassionate and accommodating, she explained every step of the procedure, and gave us some alone time with Myleigh after she sedated her, but before she attached the IV. We were relieved that we made the decision to let her go to doggy heaven at home. It was a tranquil and serene passing for her, and it very much aids us in the grieving and healing process knowing that she passed away so peacefully. Based on the grace and compassion Dr. Brown demonstrated on one of the most awful days of our lives we would not hesitate to recommend Paws Into Grace for others facing this very painful time.
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