Nervous system neoplasia

Frequently asked questions about encephalopathic neoplasia in dogs and cats

Encephalic neoplasia (EN) is common in both dogs and cats; EN is divided into primary or secondary (metastatic). Primary EN is discerned between neoplasia derived from encephalic parenchymal cells (glia and neurons), from meninges or ependymal and from vascular component (choroid plexus).

What clinical signs does a dog or cat show with an encephalic neoplasia?

Canine and feline encephalic neoplasia exert their effect both by invading encephalic tissue and by secondary effects such as peritumoral oedema, inflammation, obstructive hydrocephalus and haemorrhagic phenomena. Canine and feline encephalic neoplasia can affect any canine or feline breed; usually affected dogs and cats are adults or elderly, usually over the age of 6. The resulting clinical signs are variable, depending on which encephalic area is involved. Clinical signs tend to start slowly and insidiously with a progressive course. The most frequently clinical signs faced by the owners are the changes in behaviour, depression of the sensory, wandering, decline in sight, and seizures.

How can we diagnose an encephalic neoplasia?

Diagnosis of canine and feline encephalic neoplasia can be achieved with advanced diagnostic techniques, such as computerised tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (Figure 1). Such methods, however, do not allow us to “specifically classify” the sight lesions and, in most cases, just a suspect is supplied based on some specific features of the image. Biopsy of the encephalic mass should be performed in order to reach a definitive diagnosis, but this procedure may be complex. Human Medicine uses new and more sophisticated techniques to make mini-invasive biopsies. Canine and feline neurology is currently taking giant steps and we hope that in the near future the techniques used in humans will also be available to our four-legged friends.

Figure 1. Magnetic resonance suggestive of a encephalic tumor in a dog.

Are there therapies for encephalic neoplasia?

Yes, there are. In the dog and cat, as in humans, the encephalic neoplasia can be treated with surgery or radiation therapy, depending on the type of tumour. Treatments are not easy and are not always resolutive but can extend the survival times of our animals, improving their quality of life. Surgical treatment and radiotherapy can significantly reduce the clinical signs caused by  the brain tumor.

 

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