Is it necessary to remove benign tumors in dogs?
Original Question: I have a 7 1/2 year old red American Retriever. She developed a jelly bean size growth on the side of her ear. Our Vet aspirated it and it was benign and he would like to take it off and I wondered if this is necessary to do at this time? It has taken about 2 years to get to this size and it doesn't bother her. I would really appreciate your opinion. Thank you - Janice
Thanks for your question. It is a very common one.
Many pet owners see growths on their dogs that don’t seem to bother them at all. You’ve done the right thing by aspirating it and figuring out what it is. They’ve determined that it is a benign growth so it shouldn’t spread or threaten your dog’s life, however, a benign growth can continue to grow. You mentioned that it has grown for two years and is still very small leading you to believe that it’s probably not going to grow much more in the future and not pose a problem.
The tricky thing is knowing exactly what’s going to happen in the future. Benign tumors in dogs could grow to a size that starts to bother your dog. One simple answer would be to remove it at a time when it is affecting your dog’s quality-of-life. Some masses will become irritated, infected or grow to a size that you find it really disturbing. So it’s fine to say perform the surgery when that time comes but what makes it more complicated is the cost and success of the surgery. Right now, the mass is at it’s smallest size which means that it is the easiest, quickest, cheapest time to remove it and there is more of a chance of the surgeon getting the entire mass excised. As the mass grows it may make it harder to remove completely and therefore it could grow back after a removal at a later date.
So your veterinarian is correct in recommending you have the benign tumor removal surgery. These days, the risk of has been drastically reduced because of medical advancements.
The bottom line is that if you remove it now, it will be cheaper and more successful. If you remove it later, it will likely be costlier and the chance of successfully removing it in its entirety slowly decreases over time.
If you choose not to remove it then I would recommend that you watch it very carefully and respond appropriately and immediately if your dog becomes affected by it or it changes in any way, such as growing or becoming irritated. I encourage you to take a look at our video about addressing and checking for lumps and bumps for more information on this topic.
Good luck and I hope this helps.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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