Mast Cell Tumours in Dogs Part 2: What are the symptoms?

Posted by MyDogDoc on

  • Mast Cell Tumours (MCTs) come in a variety of shades and sizes

  • They may be slow or quick growing

  • Typically, they are raised, hairless lumps

  • Your vet will need to take some samples to make a diagnosis

  • The initial test is like to be a fine needle aspirate of the lump

  • Your vet may also want to sample nearby lymph nodes, to check to see if the cancer has spread

  • Your dog may also need other tests such as blood tests and scans


Mast cell tumours (MCTs) can have a variety of appearances but they are typically raised, hairless lumps on the skin surface. Some appear quickly and grow rapidly, whereas others can be there for months without really changing.

Because the cells involved in the tumour are allergy cells that have turned nasty the mass can change regularly - sometimes being pale and non-descript and other times looking more red and angry - especially after touching or squeezing it. If your dog has a lump that seems to change rapidly like this it is important that you don’t touch it too much and try to prevent your dog from licking or scratching it. Squeezing, scratching and handling too much may trigger an allergic reaction!

If a lump seems to get angry after even the most gentle handling, this is a sure sign that a vet visit is required.. I


A diagnosis can be reached by your vet taking a needle sample of cells (a fine needle aspirate) from the mass and sending them to a lab for analysis. The FNA will usually confirm if the lump is an MCT or not, but it may not tell us how aggressive a cancer it is. If this is the case, your vet may suggest sending a sample away once the whole lump has been removed surgically.

Your vet may also suggest taking a sample from a nearby lymph node(like the glands in our neck that get bigger when we’re sick), and may discuss the option of a blood test, an ultrasound scan of your dog’s belly or radiographs (xrays) of your dog’s chest. These tests help to give your vet as much information as possible about whether or not the cancer has spread elsewhere.

By combining all of this information your vet will be able to give you a better idea of the outcomes of your dog’s treatment options.

The vets at MyDogDoc know just how worrying a diagnosis of cancer can be, and we’re here to offer an understanding ear and support and your pet whenever you need us.

Biopsy Cancer Dog Fine needle aspirate FNA Health Lymph node Mast cell tumour Mast cell tumour signs Mast cell tumour symptoms MCT Radiograph Skin cancer Xray

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