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Dog Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma

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Dog Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Signs and Symptoms

Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC) is one of the many Dog Cancer that dogs are susceptible to. This oral cancer falls into two types: Tonsillar and Non-tonsillar. As the name implies, the main criteria is whether or not it involves the tonsils.

Although more likely to leave disfigurement, the non-tonsillar SCC is less likely to metastasize and therefore has a better prognosis.

In either case, there will be a visible mass. Unless you brush your dog's teeth, or do oral checks regularly, the first indicators there is something wrong are drooling, facial swelling, bleeding from the mouth, Dog Bad Breath, oral discharge, and eventually Dog Weight Loss and loose teeth if it invades the bone. You may notice your dog having trouble eating or drinking, or showing signs of facial sensitivity.

Unfortunately, as some dogs are considered to be small predators, their instincts lead them to avoid showing ill health, so the signs may be more subtle until the cancer is in more advanced stages.

As with most cancers, the earlier the identification, the better the prognosis. In dogs, treating a tumor that is under 2 cm has more than double the 1 year survival rate over a tumor that is larger than 4 cm.


Tonsillar OSCC metastasizes early, most frequently into lymph nodes, but also into the lungs, thyroid, spleen, liver, kidney and bone.

Non-tonsillar OSCC, although making up the majority of OSCC cases, has only metastasized in 10-20% of dogs studied. If located in the gums, it can be locally aggressive, invading the bone, but early intervention usually has a good outcome. Also, the farther forward in the mouth the cancer is, the better the outcome. (It's usually found sooner, and it's easier to work on.) Mandibular (lower jaw) is better than maxillary (upper jaw).

Treatment Options

As with human cancers, there are 3 treatment options, used singly or in combination- surgery, radiation and Dog Cancer Chemotherapy. In dogs, surgery/radiation for non-tonsillar OSCC is the usual treatment; tonsillar tends to use radiation/chemotherapy because it has advanced beyond surgery by the time it is found

The first thing your veterinarian will do upon finding the tumor, is x-ray the chest to see if there are signs of metastasis. [A CT-scan or MRI will have more precision, but is also much more expensive.] Then there is generally a dog-sedated biopsy of the tumor to determine both whether it is malignant, and if it is OSCC, rather than the deadlier melanoma.

Enlarged lymph glands are not certainty of metastasis. In a study of 100 dogs, 40% who showed no enlargement had cancer cells present in the nodes, 49% of those with enlarged lymph nodes had not metastasized.


Pain management and nutrition are two areas an owner can have a direct impact on the outcome of treatment. Less pain means less stress, and therefore more energy the dog can apply to healing. Nutrition is vital; cancer cachexia (weight loss) is caused by both an alteration in metabolism by the cancer, and discomfort or interference in the mechanics of eating. The less weight loss your dog has, the better chances of your dog responding.

OSCC is treatable, and caught early, can have a positive prognosis.

Suggested Products

Cancer Support Kit for Dogs Nu-Pet Vitamin and Antioxidant Wafers Multi Essential Dog Vitamins Mouth Drops for Dog Bad Breath

Additional Dog Cancer Pages

Dog Cancer | Dog Skin Cancer | Dog Lung Cancer | Dog Bladder Cancer | Dog Pancreatic Cancer | Dog Bone Cancer | Dog Cancer Prevention | Dog Cancer Diagnosis | Dog Gastric Cancer | Dog Mast Cell Tumors | Dog Squamous Cell Carcinoma | Dog Mouth Cancer | Dog Brain Tumor

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