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Should tumor be removed?

Species: Dog
Breed: Mutt
Age: 5-8 years
Hello there. My dog has a hard lump on his hind leg, which is about the size of a quarter. It showed up all of a sudden a couple weeks ago, but hasn't gotten any bigger since then. It feels very hard and is attached to the tissue underneath. It doesn't seem to hurt him when it is touched or pressed on. I took my dog to the vet and he took a sample to look at. The vet said it definitely is a tumor, but stated he couldn't identify if it is benign or malignant. He recommended scheduling surgery to remove the lump and then sending it off to be looked at further and determine if it is malignant or not. However, I'm seeing a lot while researching on the internet that they should be able to send the cell sample taken today off to a pathologist before removing it. Is this a better option? I want to do what's best for my dog, but I also don't want to pay hundreds of dollars and have him go through the stress of a surgery on a benign tumor that didn't need to be removed. I'm going to be calling the vet to ask if its possible to have a pathologist look at the sample first, but I'm stressing out about this and I think a second opinion would be helpful. Any advice/help at all will be greatly appreciated. Thank you!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I can understand how confusing this could be. The main issue here is that there are so many different types of tumors. Some are easy to diagnose with a fine needle aspirate which is the test that your vet did. And some are not.

It sounds to me like your vet was able to see abnormal cells on the sample but could not tell whether they were malignant or not.

An example of this could be a mast cell tumor. A fine needle aspirate could tell us that a mast cell tumor is present. But, not even a pathologist could tell you whether or not the tumor is malignant from looking at a fine needle aspirate. Mast cell tumors can be grade 1, 2, or 3. The only way to tell the difference is to look at the actual tissue, not just a fine needle aspirate. A grade 1 mast cell tumor is a benign tumor that once removed, is usually cured. A grade 3 mast cell tumor is a very serious matter that can spread to other organs.


I have had some cases where in my office, I can tell that a tumor is likely but to get more information I will send the sample to a pathologist. It certainly won't hurt to ask your vet if they are likely to get more information by sending the sample to a pathologist. But, if they say that this is unlikely then this is probably true.

If this is a hard lump it could be either a spindle cell tumor or a fibrosarcoma. Both of these have the potential to be very serious. If we deal with them when they are small then they are much more likely to be cured. If we wait until they grow, especially on a limb, sometimes they can grow so large that they can't be fully removed.

If your vet is recommending removal I would agree that it is a good idea.

Dr. Marie.



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thanks for all your help! We did have the lump removed and got news now that it was a hemangiopericytoma, stage 1. I'm crossing my fingers it doesn't come back, although it seems like its very common that they do. Again, thanks for your help!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Ah, I am glad that you had this removed. Thanks for the update!



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.