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In Canines, cancers pose an equally serious threat as it does in humans. Melanoma tumors require immediate attention because malignant tumors can spread quickly and cause death. Early detection and diagnosis of melanomas in dogs lead to better and successful treatments.Melanoma tumors can be benign or malignant and although the chances of a benign tumor metastasizing are low, they should still be treated as early as possible. Malignant melanomas on the other hand are dangerous and after metastasis spread to other parts of the body which is life threatening.

What are Melanomas?

Melanomas are one of the most common types of skin cancer affecting millions of people each year. It is also the most common type of skin cancer found in canines. The melanoma develops when mutations in the skin cells get triggered by unrepaired DNA damage. These skin cells multiply rapidly and the cluster of these cells collectively becomes malignant tumors. Melanomas originate in melanocytes or the pigment-producing cells in the skin. Melanomas resemble moles which are often used as the first symptom to detect melanoma.

Benign and malignant melanomas

In dogs and other canines, benign melanomas are present as dark round pigments raised on the skin. They mostly occur on the head or on the back and paws.Lymph node swelling is associated with melanoma and may be used in clinical investigation. Some melanoma pigments are lighter in color. In certain cases, malignant melanomas occur as a cluster of pigments. The oral cavity is the most common area of infection.

Type of Malignant tumors
  1. Cutaneous Melanoma. These types of malignant tumors are usually found beneath the paws as an ulcer or a soft mass. Surgery is the best way to treat such tumors because the bones might also get affected. A simple radiography can reveal the extent of damage.
  2. Oral Melanoma. About 30-40% of all tumors in dogs are oral melanomas. Such melanomas spread quickly from the oral cavity to the lungs, lymph nodes, liver and kidney. Early treatment is very important. Surgery along with radiation therapy is the best treatment method for this melanoma.
  3. Uveal or Intra-ocular Melanoma. These types of tumor originate in the iris and present themselves as dark pigmented mass. They can sometimes be pink. Diode laser photocoagulation is the best way such tumors can be treated.
  4. Limbal (Epibulbar) Melanoma. Usually female dogs are affected by these types of tumors. These tumors are an exception as they are not malignant. But the potential of becoming malignant tumors are quite high and that is why they fall under malignant melanomas. They arise as pigmented masses in the subconjunctival connective tissue. Gonioscopy is the most preferred treatment option for these tumors.
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