Cancer: Tumors of the Mouth and Oral Masses

Oral masses can range from benign extra gum tissue to oral cancers. Although sometimes the shape, size and location of oral masses can help predict the type of mass, benign and malignant oral masses can masquerade as each other and even look identical. Depending on the nature of the mass and previous tests performed, further diagnostics may be recommended. In some cases, we may recommend going directly to surgery.

What can be done to treat the mass?
Once the type of mass is determined, a treatment plan can be formulated. Often treatment will involve some type of surgery. Depending on the origin of the cells and tissue involved, some masses can be simply removed. However, some tumor types are known to project microscopic projections into the surrounding tissues. In these cases, we may recommend a wide, or “radical” excision, meaning we remove the mass with some of the normal neighboring tissue. At times this may mean removing part of the jaw, but these patients quickly adapt and return to their pre-surgical self within days to weeks and the changes in their physical appearance is surprisingly minimal in many cases.

We will always submit the mass for microscopic (histopathologic) review to ensure we have the correct diagnosis and to confirm the mass was removed completely. Certain more aggressive tumors may require chemotherapy or radiation for the best prognosis. In some cases, you may not want to pursue further treatment given the tumor type and prognosis. In these instances, we will work with you and your veterinarian to develop a plan to ensure you and your pet are comfortable and together for as long as possible.

For more information on this subject, speak to the veterinarian who is treating your pet.