Committed to the improvement of the breed by breeding for health, temperament and better structure in dogs that have the ability to herd.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cancer in Cardigans

I found out awhile back that Sadie's mom, Petal aka Cardiridge Wildflower had breast cancer. Considering she is 8 years old now, is this a normal age to be getting cancer in CWC? Is cancer normal in this breed? Is it genetic? Can it happen to bitches that aren't used for breeding aka my Sadie Princess??

Should Cardigans be getting screened for cancers? Do you see it as a big issue in the breed? Do you think we should be talking more about it and becoming more aware of it?

I'd love to hear what you have to say


Joanna said...

Yes, it's very common for bitches to get mammary tumors, and her age is about right for it. It's not nearly as bad as human breast cancer, though; in dogs many are benign and the ones that are malignant are usually able to be completely removed. It's only when it starts to affect the lymph nodes that it gets dangerous, and most people catch it way before then.

I am sure that some variations on it are genetic, but most of it is because when bitches go through their false pregnancies (which happen after every heat cycle in every bitch, even if she doesn't show a lot of symptoms), the mammary tissue begins to develop and then stutters to a stop. Cells that don't go through their complete cycle of growth and maturation are a lot more likely to become cancerous.

Yes, it can happen to bitches not used for breeding; it's probably even more common in those girls.

Every owner of an intact bitch should be aware of what mammary tumors look and feel like, and monitor them with their vets. There's no reason to think that those particular types of cancers are anything more than the way we keep dogs nowadays, with lots of empty heat cycles and few pregnancies. I don't think it's anything you should or even could screen for.

The familial cancers in dogs tend to be the hemangiosarcomas and osteosarcomas and lymphomas, at least that I am aware of. Even with those, however, you can have it in an individual dog and it's not because of genetics. You don't start blaming genetics until the incidence in the breed is dramatically higher than in other breeds. Some cardis have been diagnosed with those types of cancers, of course, but as far as I am aware do not have a disproportionate rate when compared to the general dog population. So it's not something that is on the breed radar and there's probably no need to panic unless and until we see a lot of dogs suddenly dying young from the same cancers.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about Cardigans but my GSP bitch had mammery tumors at 10, I just think it is fairly common with bitches that are kept intact and not spayed early. I watching her daughter who is now 7.

Emily said...

I don't know a lot of the technical garbage as I don't think in doctor terms...but here are my two cents.

I always check my older girls and turn them over, feel for any lumps, as soon as you feel one...have them checked out.

Also, it is important after you are done using a girl for breeding, to just go ahead and spay them. So, you don't have the risk of mammery tumors.

My girl Ash had one at age 5 years. It was malignant and was removed successfully. I haven't had any other Cardigans have a mammery tumor, but any breed can get it and have a BC with one right now that is being removed, she is 8 years.