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Ask Dr. M. Vitucci MS, DVM Your Own Question
Dr. M. Vitucci MS, DVM
Dr. M. Vitucci MS, DVM, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 132
Experience:  Masters in Physiology (OSU), DVM OSU ('06), Accreditations in multiple orthopedic surgeries
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My 6 year old golden retriever was just diagnosed with mast

Customer Question

My 6 year old golden retriever was just diagnosed with mast cell tumor, grade 2. This was surgically removed, however, the tumor was between her rectum and vulva (sp?) and he could not remove horizontally the desired amount of tissue. The lab results indicate all of the tumor was removed, however, the recommendation is cortisone treatments or chemo therapy. How do I know what is the best treatment for my dog and the side effects she will experience?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. M. Vitucci MS, DVM replied 6 years ago.

Hi there....great question!! Mast cell tumors (MCT) are one of the most common types of skin cancers. Here is some info on grading.


  • Prognosis of mast cell tumors of the skin is directly related to the grade of the tumor as determined by the biopsy results (histopathology)

  • If the tumor has been completely removed with surgery, then recurrence of the tumor should be low
  • Grade 1 - benign behavior - excellent cure rate with surgery
  • Grade 2 - moderately malignant behavior - recurrence rate is about 20% with aggressive surgery
  • Grade 3 - very malignant tumor - only 10% of these patients are alive at 1 year - most of these have spread of tumor.

    Here are some chemo recommendations for MCT.



    • Prednisone, which is a steroid will help to shrink the tumor size; prednisone does not kill the tumor cells rather decreases the size of the tumor by reducing tumor-associated inflammation; a positive response is typically seen for only 1 to 2 months
    • Vinblastine (chemotherapy) may have some benefit
    • Lomustine
    • Usually a combination of these drugs is recommended
    • Chronic treatment with benadryl has been suggested for dogs that have developed multiple mast cell tumors
    • Palladia is a tyrosine kinase receptor blocker; the proliferative panel may be helpful to determine if the patient will respond to this type of medication. The tumor should be positive for cKIT mutations for this drug to be potentially effective. Ulcers of the stomach and intestine have been a common side effect of this medication.

    Please consider the last option...this is a new drug that many vets dont even know about. It has good results with the most common side effects being GI signs. It is only at referral centers.


    I perform an abunance of surgery for our practice and i get many referral surgeries from vets around our city. In my experience, MCT of a grade 2 or higher certainly can recur but by monitoring the area closely you can catch a second MCT early so that it too can be removed!


    I would consider chemo and certainly Paladia if it were my dog. Please talk to an oncologist or a clinic that does a lot of chemo. Also, monitoring the area is extremely inportant!!


    hope this helps,


    Dr. Vitucci

    Dr. M. Vitucci MS, DVM and other Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
    Expert:  Dr. M. Vitucci MS, DVM replied 6 years ago.

    If you need anything else...feel free to contact me.



    Mike Vitucci MS, DVM