Ask the NorthStar VETS Vet: When to have a skin growth examined by a veterinarian

Q: When should a skin growth on a pet be concerning? And what changes would be cause for a re-evaluation by your vet?

A: Skin growths are common in both dogs and cats. Skin tumors can both be benign and malignant. If your pet has a skin mass, I recommend having it evaluated by your veterinarian. If a mass is bigger than 0.5cm, generally we can put a needle into the mass to obtain cells, called a fine needle aspirate to determine if it is benign or malignant. Any time a mass is growing or changing in character (for example, gets firm), it should be evaluated, even if it has been evaluated before. Occasionally, a mass that was previously diagnosed as benign can turn into a cancerous mass. I recommend any mass that is larger than 2cm or growing be removed. Certain breeds of dogs are more likely to get mast cell tumors such as Pugs, Boston Terriers and Boxers. And other breeds, such as Cocker Spaniels, have benign papillomas.

Jennifer Kim, DVMJennifer Kim, DVM
Dr. Kim grew up in New York and received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1998. After spending two years at the National Cancer Institute performing cancer genetic research, she attended veterinary school at Tufts University, graduating in 2003. Dr. Kim completed a rotating internship at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan, New York and then an oncology internship at Cornell University. She initially began at NorthStar VETS as an emergency clinician in 2005 and returned to us in January 2010 to treat oncology patients after completing a residency in medical oncology at Michigan State University, sponsored by NorthStar VETS.

The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your family veterinarian’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your own veterinarian to determine what is right for your pet. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We can not and do not give you medical advice via this blog. The information contained in this online site and emails is presented in summary form only and intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your veterinarian. We do not recommend the self-management of your pet’s health problems.

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