What are skin masses?

These are any growth that occurs from within the skin. They can range from small, benign masses such as sebaceous gland adenomas (tumours of the glands associated with the hair follicles in dogs) and histiocytomas (a benign growth seen more commonly in young dogs) to more extensive tumours such as mast cell tumours (MCT) and soft tissue sarcomas (STS).

Treatment options

Some, such as sebaceous gland adenomas in older dogs and histiocytomas in younger dogs, usually do not require treatment and can be left alone and monitored. Other tumours, such as soft tissue sarcomas and mast cell tumours, should be removed where possible as they will continue to grow and may often spread. Early treatment markedly increases the chances of a successful outcome and with no reduction in your pet’s life expectancy. The longer we leave them, the more difficult and costlier they are to remove and the greater the chance that they have also spread.

Surgical removal

Surgical removal is the mainstay of treatment, often with removal of 1cm or more of normal tissue beside and beneath these masses, where possible. The mass can then be sent away for histopathology to check whether it has been completely removed, and what type of tumour it is. Tumour type affects further choices from here, such as whether chemotherapy may also be appropriate.

Recovery and aftercare

Your pet will usually go home the same day as surgery. Care requirements at home are not onerous, and usually only involve keeping the dog quieter than normal for a few days and not allowing them to lick extensively at the surgery area.