Prostate Cancer in Dogs

Male dogs get prostate cancer just as male humans do.  The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system.  It contains many essential enzymes and also plays an important role in the protection and motility of sperm.  The liquid secreted by the prostate helps the sperm by providing a liquid for them to be in after ejaculation and helps protect the sperm in the vagina.  Both neutered and intact males have prostates.

An adenocarcinoma is a malignant tumor that starts in any glandular tissue.  In the case of the prostate, it can grow and metastasis rapidly to other parts of the body, including the lungs, bones, and lymph nodes.  Prostatic adenocarcinoma represents about one percent of all malignant tumors found in dogs.  It is most common in large breeds and affects mainly older dogs between the ages of nine and ten.

The symptoms of prostate cancer depend on the presence, extent, and location of metastasis to the rest of the body.  The following symptoms frequently occur:  a ribbon-shaped stool, poor appetite, weight loss, difficulty in urinating, complete urine blockage, pain — especially when the area around the prostrate is touched, fever, and difficulty breathing.

No one knows the cause of prostate cancer.  There may be a hormonal imbalance component, but not much is known about it if there is.

In order to diagnose prostate cancer, you need to take your dog to a veterinarian.  He will take a complete history of your dog’s symptoms.  He will also do blood work and a urinalysis.  This is important to look for the presence of white blood cells, infection, and malignant cells.  Your dog may need to have abdominal x-rays and an ultrasound to look at the prostate.  A prostate exam may also be necessary.  A biopsy may be performed to obtain some prostate tissue to look at for malignant cells and to stage the cancer.

There is not much treatment for prostate cancer in dogs.  Removal of the prostate is difficult and usually does not help.  Recovery is difficult and the results do not justify the problems it may cause.  Surgery may also cause urinary incontinence. Castration does not help, as the tumor does not respond well to that.   The dog may survive longer with radiation and chemotherapy.

One of the major complications of prostate cancer is the inability to urinate or defecate.  You will need to inform your veterinarian immediately if the dog does not seem to be able to do either thing.  This inability is often accompanied by pain, restlessness, and irritability.  Dogs with prostate cancer should be given extra affection and attention to help them deal with the symptoms of this disease.

If you choose to do chemotherapy at home, caution should be used when handling the chemotherapy agents.  They are toxic and can harm you if you handle them wrong.  They can also kill your dog if administered incorrectly.  Make sure you understand how to administer them before starting home chemotherapy.