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Is this mammary tumor cancerous?

Species: Dog
Breed: shih tzu
Age: 5-8 years
We have an 8 yr old shih Tzu, female spayed before first heat and we noticed a lump in her mammory area, the vet wants to remove it and said it could be a mammory tumor. he also did lab work that showed high levels of apl. a bit of her medically history includes bladder stone removal surgery in 2009, Cystocentesis performed in 2011, and more recently KCS. she is being treated with antiobiotic pulse therapy with baytril 1 week of the month since the stone removal and she also received tacrolimus compounded drops to the eye 2xs a day for the dry eye. of course I am worried about the possibility of cancer. is there anything I can do to prepare myself for what is going on with her.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

It sounds like Precious has had her share of medical issues! I bet you she is a sweetheart of a dog...it seems like it is always the super nice dogs that have multiple health issues.

The good news is that the vast majority of the time when a dog has been spayed before her first heat, a mammary tumor will end up being benign.

When the vet removes the tumor, the first thing they will likely do is to cut it open. I find that sometimes what I thought was a mammary tumor is actually a lipoma which is just a fat lump and absolutely nothing to worry about.

If they are not sure about what the tumor is then they will send it away to a pathologist. The pathologist will tell you what kind of mass it is and how likely it is to be cancerous. While I don't have access to statistics that say exactly how likely this is to be cancerous, what the textbooks say is that when a dog who was spayed before her first heat has a mammary tumor it is very rare for it to be cancerous.

She will likely come through surgery with no problems at all. It is generally not a major surgery unless it was a very very large mass. Things like this usually heal quickly as well and with minimal discomfort.

I hope everything goes well!

Let me know if you have more questions!

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:

Dr. Marie, your reply just sent a wave of calm over me! Thank you so very much for your opinion and advice!! The mass is about the size of a dime. He said it wont be nearly as evasive as the bladder stone removal, so I was pleased to hear that! Do you feel like she will need anything for pain following the surgery? And to answer your question, yes she is just as wonderful as her name suggests! She is such a friendly people loving dog, and she works great with elderly patients at the nursing home. I think she knows who needs what love and just takes to them! I have to take care of my little angel, and your response truly made my mind feel at ease. Thank you again!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm so glad my reply has helped. :)

I don't usually do much in the way of pain relief after removing a 1 cm lump. I usually give a 24 hour anti-inflammatory injection and that seems to do the trick. However, there is no harm in asking your vet for a few days of a pain reliever just to be sure. Ultimately your vet will be the best judge of whether or not it is necessary.

Hope all goes well!

Dr. Marie



Customer reply:

Dr Marie, I had to follow up with my question to let you know that you were 110 percent correct! My vet told me that it appears to be a fatty lump, and nothing to concerning. He is sending to the lab anyway however. I am feeling much better today, and she even got her toofies cleaned!! She got a shot for pain, antibiotic and inflammation just like you said. Thank you again for helping calm my nerves with your experience and knowledge, I really appreciate it! Precious sends you sweet shih tzu kisses!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for the update! It sounds like Precious is in excellent hands!



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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.