Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I have just learned that my 3-year-old chocolate lab has melanoma. I thought melanoma was skin cancer, however, hers is between her heart and her lung. I do not understand this. Thank you for any information you can provide.
Lili Duda, VMD, Section Editor of the OncoLink Veterinary Oncology Menu, responds:
Melanomas in dogs fall into two categories: melanoma of the haired skin, which are usually (but not always) benign, and melanomas of the oral cavity and mucosa, which are very aggressive and highly malignant cancers that spread to draining lymph nodes, lungs, and other sites usually within a few months of diagnosis. There are no known predisposing causes of melanoma in dogs, but when cancer occurs at a young age, a genetic predisposition is sometimes a factor. Consultation with a board-certified veterinary oncologist is strongly recommended.