Spinal Tumor in a Dog

Last Modified: October 4, 2008


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

My 5 year-old Golden Retriever became suddenly unable to control his back legs. A neurosurgeon did an MRI and told us he saw what looked like a tumor in his spinal column starting to press on his spinal cord. He gave him 20 mg of prednisone twice a day and recommended we put him down. He's 90% better on the prednisone. Is there any way to tell anything about his condition without a biopsy? I don't know what to expect.


Lili Duda, VMD, Section Editor of the OncoLink Veterinary Oncology Menu, responds:

As in any other location, a confirmed diagnosis via either needle aspirate or tissue sample is required in order to recommend appropriate treatment (such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy) and to determine a prognosis. Without knowing more about the specifics about the location of the tumor and what specific structures are involved with the tumor, a biopsy MIGHT be combined with a surgery to decompress the spinal cord, possibly providing additional palliation in conjunction with the prednisone. Some tumors, such as lymphoma, are readily treatable and carry a reasonably good prognosis. If possible, consultation with a medical oncologist or radiation oncologist might be helpful. Other things to consider are a second opinion from a radiologist on the MRI findings, to be sure the lesion is considered most probably to be a tumor and not another condition.