Neural Sheath Tumors in Canines

Last Modified: November 13, 2005


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My 7 year-old Italian Greyhound male just had a cherry-sized lump removed from the outer elbow of his front leg. It grew within 2-3 weeks. The biopsy showed neural sheath tumor. I want to know, what is the prognosis for this type of cancer, and what is the best possible treatment I can get for him? His current vet suggests a more invasive excision to get cleaner margins, but I understand that this type of cancer has a high recurrence rate? Should I proceed more aggressively with radiation?


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

Neural sheath tumors (also called peripheral nerve sheath tumors, Schwannomas, or several other names) are one of the tumor types that comprise a group of tumors called "low-grade soft tissue sarcomas". These are tumors that arise from the connective tissues of the body and include fibrosarcomas, hemangiopericytomas, and nerve sheath tumors. They are tumors that are locally very invasive into the surrounding normal tissues, but are unlikely to metastasize (spread) elsewhere in the body. They can grow along blood vessels and nerves, and in between and around muscles and bones. When these tumors occur in the limbs, it is very difficult to get a complete surgical excision (short of amputation of the limb) due to the small amount of skin and subcutaneous tissues and the large numbers of vital structures, such as blood vessels, nerves, and tendons/ligaments, in this area. Usually, surgery is used to remove as much of the tumor as possible, and is then followed by radiation therapy to eradicate any residual microscopic tumor that is left behind after surgery.