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lump on back

For about 5 yrs my dog had this lump on his back about the size of a walnut  The vet said not to worry about it that it was a fatty tumor. It grew very slowly. However over the past year and even since I saw my vet last it has grown and is now the size of a baseball.  It is also warm to the touch. It does NOT effect my dog whatsoever. He's old but he walks fine, eats well and is still quite perky for an old guy. Now my vet doesn't think it's a fatty tumor because it is too hard. She hasn't suggested any treatment for it saying that it bothers me more than the dog.Being that he's had it for over 5 yrs I don't think it could be cancer. He did have a benign cyst removed from the same vicinty about 7yrs ago. I'm a little mad at my vet for ignoring this thing for several years just brushing it off as a fatty tumor and not to worry about it. My question is can this thing get so big that it could burst? And why is it warm to the touch. It has been like this now for almost a year. Any treatment you might recommend.?
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931217 tn?1283484935
Dear Donna229,

Your dog's condition is of concern and offers a teachable moment to client and veterinarian alike. No mass should be simply "watched" without purposeful effort to discover what sort of mass it is. The simplest, least invasive and least expensive way to do that is by fine needle aspirate. This procedure generally requires no sedation, anesthesia or other involved interventions, other than sticking a needle and syringe into the mass, pulling back and placing whatever comes out on glass microscope slides for a pathologist to interpret.

In this case, the growth of the mass at least warrants an aspirate and if at all questionable results are obtained, the mass should come off and be submitted in its entirety for analysis. In such a case, 3 cm margins as well as at least a "tissue plane" to the deep margin should be taken to give you the best chance at removing it all at one surgery.  If it turns out benign all the better, but if not, at least you have the best chance of obtaining "clean margins" , surgical margins free of cells of the mass type. in one effort.

I'd advise finding a veterinarian willing to aspirate, comfortable with surgery, comfortable in managing anesthesia in an older pet (such a  veterinarian will want to have blood work and an electrocardiogram prior to anesthesia) and having the mass first aspirated and perhaps removed in a second step if indicated.

The mass may be warm due to a very large blood supply and that might indicate yet another reason to remove it. Malignant masses are more active, biologically speaking, and demand more circulation to support that activity (growth).

Your dog is older but not necessarily near the end of his life. This mass should not be a reason for his premature demise.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.


Arnold L. Goldman DVM, MS
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