As a preventive measure, one could try to avoid exposure to the sun, although this is practically usually not achievable for dogs. Regular inspection of the oral cavity of the dog can lead to an early detection, leading to much earlier and therefore less invasive treatment options. Depending on the depth of the tumor, the treatment will differ. More treatment options are available for the superficial form than for the invasive form.
This form can, when sufficient tumor-free margins can be obtained, treated adequately with surgical excision. Other options consist of local freezing, lasers, light therapy (photodynamic therapy), radiation, possibly combined with injecting chemo into the tumor and debulking (excising tumor tissue without taking margins). The disadvantage of these alternative techniques is that it’s not possible to check whether the entire tumor has been removed or treated. Careful, not all species are alike: radiation of this tumor type on the nasal plane has better results in cats than in dogs.
The preferred treatment for invasive lesions is to surgically remove the tissue mass as long as it hasn’t spread to the lip and the surrounding skin. If margins cannot be obtained, then additional radiation can lead to good results.
Surgery is the treatment option of choice. Wide surgical excision usually leads to long-term control of the tumor because of the low percentage of metastases.
Radiotherapy – in contrast to cats- is usually not effective in dogs for this tumor type on the nasal planum. However, good results have been obtained with radiation of the oral cavity (31% of dogs experienced local tumor recurrence after radiation).
Chemotherapy is applied more and more and is mostly indicated in case of elaborated tumor mass or when metastases have been determined.
The mental health of the dog is a factor that should not be underestimated: sometimes the look/face of your pet can change a lot after surgical removal of a (large) tumor. This doesn’t bother the dog himself, however, it can alarm the owners, or passers-by and/or raise questions. Offering continued attention and love, can reduce feelings of pain in humans and animals. It’s important to avoid boredom, fatigue and isolation in your dog, as this lowers the pain threshold. A regular scheme and environment, sufficient sleep/rest, environmental enrichment, company, sympathy and avoiding unpleasant environments can considerably decrease the inconvenience associated with cancer.