Muscle tumors in dogs are also known as rhabdomyosarcomas or soft tissue sarcomas. These tumors are very aggressive, malignant and metastasizing to other parts of the body. Muscle tumors are considered rare in most dogs. Depending on the class and location of the tumor, dogs of any age can be affected. Treatment is available, with a guarded prognosis, if the tumor metastasizes.
Classifications of Muscle Tumors
According to the We Are The Cure website, the most common class of muscle tumor is the embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, which affects the muscles of the larynx and around the heart. They manifest themselves as white and tan fleshy masses and older dogs may be slightly predisposed to this class of muscle tumor.
The botryoid rhabdomyosarcoma mainly affects muscles of the urinary bladder and urethra, and the masses are tan and white, which look like polyps.
The alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma is located within the jaws, face and abdomen areas and show up as pale, white, tan or fleshy masses.
The pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma is a common skeletal muscle tumor found most often in the head, neck and limbs, and also shows up as pale, white, tan or fleshy masses. They frequently metastasize to other organs of the body.
The Pet MD website states that the cause of a muscle tumor such as a rhabdomyosarcoma is idiopathic (unknown).
A diagnosis is usually determined through a complete medical examination by your veterinarian. Several diagnostic tests may also be performed such as a complete blood count, urinalysis, biopsies, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), other radio-graphs and a bone scan to determine the rate of metastasis.
Surgical excision of the tumor is the treatment of choice, along with possible radiation, depending on the location of the tumor and the rate of metastasis. Chemotherapy may be used with treatments of drugs such as vincristine to control metastasis. If one limb is affected, the best option to remove the tumor and all the cancer is through amputation of the limb. Dogs do very well to compensate for a removed limb and live a happy healthy life.
Once you get your dog home from treatment and possible surgery, you will need to monitor the incision area, following doctors’ orders on how to clean it and replace dressings. You may need to put an Elizabethan collar on your dog so the wound does not get disturbed during healing. If there is any oozing, drainage, swelling or redness, contact your veterinarian immediately. Follow any medication therapy as instructed as well by the doctor, scheduling follow-up vet visits until your dog is fully recovered. In cases where the cancer has spread, the prognosis is guarded. If your dog has gone through a successful treatment plan for a muscle tumor, the survival rate is long term.