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Finding a "lump" on your pet can be very common, especially as they age. Some lumps may be benign while others may be a result of a wound or infection.
Common "lumps" we see:
- Lipoma (fatty tumor): these tend to be slow growing over time and usually do not affect your pet or cause pain. In rare cases, a lipoma can infiltrate the underlying muscle and be extremely painful and difficult to surgically remove (infiltrating lipoma or liposarcoma). We always recommend aspirating any lumps or bumps because it can be difficult to tell whether they should be removed just by feeling them (palpation). In most cases, we do not surgically remove a lipoma and we will monitor them for any rapid change.
- Mast cell tumor: This is a common skin tumor seen in dogs and less often in cats. It can vary between low, intermediate or high grade. This grade highly determines prognosis. Mast cell tumors can look like a flat, dark area of skin with no hair or can look like a wart or a lipoma. An aspirate needs to be done to determine if more aggressive treatment is necessary. Mast cells are found throughout the body. This means that pets with high grade mast cell tumor in the skin can also have tumors in their liver or spleen. Staging is done to determine the extent of the disease. Staging typically includes blood work, chest x-rays, abdominal ultrasound and/or aspirating local lymph nodes. Mast cell tumors require surgical excision and, in some cases, could require radiation or chemotherapy for complete resolution, if possible.
- Abscess: An abscess is a pocket of pus that typically forms about 3-5 days after the inciting injury. Oftentimes, this is a result of a bite wound, particularly in outdoor male cats that get in fights. An abscess requires surgery and antibiotics for appropriate treatment.
- Hematoma: A hematoma is a blood-filled pocket under the skin. We have seen them in patients with abnormal bleeding as well as in the ears of patients that shake their head aggressively when they have a concurrent ear infection. The underlying cause determines the coarse of treatment.
There are many other "lumps" or "bumps" that we see on our veterinary patients. A complete history and physical exam should be done to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.