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Care Guide

About Care Guides[x] These care guides are written to help your clients understand common conditions, tests, and procedures, as well as to provide basic information about pet care. They are based on the most up-to-date, documented information, recommendations, and guidelines available in the United States at the time of writing. Pharmaceutical product licensing, availability, and usage recommendations are based on US product information. Use the Download Handout button to generate a PDF for printing or e-mailing to your clients.

Lumpectomy

    • A lumpectomy is the surgical removal of a mass (lump) from the skin or the tissues under the skin.
    • Most lumpectomies are performed with the patient under general anesthesia.
    • Your veterinarian may recommend this procedure to remove a benign (non-cancerous) mass that is causing the pet discomfort, excise a malignant (cancerous) mass to help prevent further spread, or perform additional tests on the mass to determine if additional treatment is needed.
    • After surgical removal, the mass is often sent to an outside laboratory for additional testing.

    What Is a Lumpectomy?

    A lumpectomy is the surgical removal of a mass from the skin or the tissues just under the skin. As a rule, lumpectomies are performed while the patient is under general anesthesia, but occasionally it may be possible to remove a very small mass using local anesthesia.

    Why Does My Pet Need a Lumpectomy?

    It’s very common for pets to develop lumps or bumps associated with the skin. While many of these lumps are benign (non-cancerous), some can be malignant (cancerous). Early detection and treatment of malignant masses can improve the prognosis for your pet.

    Your veterinarian may recommend a lumpectomy to remove a benign mass that is causing your pet discomfort or that could cause a problem if allowed to grow larger; excise a malignant mass and help prevent further metastasis (spread of cancerous cells); or perform additional tests on the mass to guide future treatment, if needed.

    What Diagnostic Tests Are Necessary Before a Lumpectomy?

    Before surgery, your veterinarian may recommend some or all of the following tests:

    • Complete blood count (CBC), chemistry panel, and urinalysis: These tests will help your veterinarian assess your pet’s general health before anesthesia and, in some cases, provide clues about possible tumor spread to other organs in the body.
    • Fine-needle aspiration: A needle is inserted into the mass, and cells are extracted for examination under a microscope. This relatively painless procedure can help identify the type of mass and help determine the amount of tissue around the mass to surgically remove for optimal results.
    • Biopsy: If a larger sample is needed than what is possible with fine-needle aspiration, your veterinarian may recommend a biopsy (a tissue sample).
    • Radiographs (x-rays): If your veterinarian suspects that the mass is cancerous, abdominal or chest radiographs may help indicate if the tumor has spread within the body.
    • Advanced imaging: Ultrasound examination, CT (computed tomography), or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may be recommended to explore the extent of the mass to prepare for surgery or to check for signs of tumor metastasis.

    What Diagnostic Tests Are Needed After a Lumpectomy?

    After surgery, the mass is often sent to an outside laboratory for additional testing. Among other things, this testing can help identify the type of cells in the mass, whether the mass is malignant or benign, and if surgical removal was complete.

    Treatment and Prognosis

    The treatment and prognosis for your pet will depend on the results of all the tests your veterinarian has performed. If the mass is benign and was removed completely, no further treatment may be necessary. If the mass is malignant (cancerous), surgery alone may cure the condition in some cases, but additional treatment—such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or other medications—may be recommended.

    Your pet may have stitches in the skin after a lumpectomy. Be sure to check the area daily for abnormalities such as swelling, bleeding, or discharge, and notify your veterinarian if your pet licks or scratches the area. Be sure to follow all postoperative instructions to help ensure a quick and complete recovery for your pet. 

    It’s important to check your pet’s skin regularly and ask your veterinarian to examine any new lumps or bumps or existing masses that are changing in size or appearance. Prompt intervention can improve a pet’s prognosis.