As dogs age, harmful changes in their DNA can lead to cancer, which occurs when cells reproduce out of control. One such cancer is liposarcoma, a rare and sometimes dangerous cancer in which fat cells under the skin form malignant tumors. These tumors cause normal cells in nearby tissue to die. Unlike other adipose (fat) tissue cancers, they do not generally spread to other organs through the blood or cellular fluid called lymph. Pets stand a good chance of recovering from a liposarcoma tumor if it is surgically removed during the early stages, though tumors tend to regrow.
Many liposarcoma tumors appear as nodes (rounded bumps) and occur in loose skin around the neck, groin, and along the sides of a dog. Maxshouse.com describes these tumors as feeling very hard or giving slightly when squeezed.
Persistent Joint Pain
Older pets frequently suffer from joint disorders like arthritis and bursitis, but occasionally liposarcomas can form within joints or attach to bone. An X-ray can reveal if a dog's limp is due to more than just wear and tear.
The Pet Cancer Center explains that on extremely rare occasions, liposarcomas can occur within the body cavity, attached to the protective fatty layer that covers organs. Gradual dropping of the stomach, ongoing swelling on one side of the abdomen, or any unusual hardness in the stomach area warrants a trip to the vet.
According to the Veterinary College of the University of Georgia, liposarcoma tumors under the skin occasionally resemble swelling of part or all of a leg. Swollen areas may feel soft and squishy or firm and tend to increase in size over time.
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HeatherLin Rowan is a native of Austin, Texas. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Furman University (Greenville, S.C). Rowan has worked as a lab technician in neuropsychology, genetics and pharmaceutical laboratories. She teaches high school science and writes educational curriculum for a local public school district.