The Role of Hormones in the Development of Mast Cell Tumors in Animals

Lili Duda, VMD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
I was wondering if any research has been done on the effects of hormones like estrogen on keeping dog Mast Cell Tumors (MCT) in check? I know it may just be coincidence, but my Rhodesian ridgeback had one MCT for 3 yrs, and after she was spayed, developed 4 more within the next year (which have been removed). Just curious if there is any new research out there!  

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

There is nothing in the veterinary literature to indicate that estrogens play much of a role in canine mast cell tumors. The little anecdotal evidence that exists is contradictory. On the one hand, some evidence suggests that estrogen receptors are present on malignant mast cells. This would suggest that estrogens might promote tumor cell growth, and removal of estrogen would cause tumors to regress. On the other hand, there is a syndrome of multicentric mast cell tumors in young Siamese cats that typically regresses spontaneously as the cats mature. In addition, there is a mastocytosis syndrome in adolescents that regresses when they reach puberty (it should be noted however that the human disease differs significantly from the canine and feline disease.