Loss of a Dog with Adenocarcinoma

Lili Duda, VMD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
Last week, I lost my 2.5-year-old chocolate lab to Adeno Carcinoma. We had her since she was 6 weeks old and raised her on a healthy diet. She had three tumors the smallest the size of a softball. This has been a great loss and part of trying to deal with it is getting the big question WHY answered.

Can you help us understand?  
Thank you.

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

We are sorry to hear about your loss.

Adenocarcinomas are the most common tumor in the intestines and stomach of dogs. They usually occur in older dog (usually over 10 years old). There are no breeds that appear predisposed, and males are more likely to be affected than females. The prognosis is poor, as most tumors have already spread to lymph nodes by the time of diagnosis, and there is little information on treatment of these tumors in veterinary medicine.

Although a very small percentage of canine tumors have a known predisposing factor, such as a particular genetic susceptibility or exposure to a known carcinogen, most cancers have no known cause. There is nothing at all in the description of your dog and her environment that can be directly associated with her tumor. There is nothing that you did that caused her tumor, and there is nothing you could have done differently to prevent it. You might want to consider talking to the breeder to let her know about your dog, and to find out if any of her relatives have been affected with similar tumors. It is rather unusual for a dog as young as 2 1/2 years old to be affected with this tumor type.

From the National Cancer Institute