I came across a paper that advised we should know exactly what a mass is before surgery. The rationale being as follows (Ettinger, 2015):

“Do something: aspirate or biopsy, and treat appropriately.

Needle biopsy
Vet performing a needle biopsy on a cocker spaniel. Image ©iStock.com/Paolo_Toffanin

“Why diagnose early? Obtaining a definitive diagnosis with cytology or biopsy early and before excision will lead to improved patient outcomes for superficial masses. Surgery is likely curative for the majority of superficial tumours when detected early, when they are small – especially benign lesions and locally invasive tumours with a low probability of metastasis. If tumours are removed with complete surgical margins, the prognosis is often good with no additional treatments needed.

“Pet owners need to be aware of the ‘pea’ size requirement to have masses evaluated, and veterinarians must measure and document the size of the mass to compare growth.

“If more than 1cm (or the size of large pea) and present for a month, the mass should be aspirated or biopsied.

“Knowing the tumour type prior to the first surgery will increase success of a curative-intent surgery.”

In all honesty, I rarely do this for masses booked in for surgery and I suspect as lipomatosus, and for masses that visually appear consistent for histiocytoma – but there are tips here I will follow in the future.

Ettinger S (2015). Top Ten Oncology Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, North American Veterinary Conference: Small Animal & Exotics Proceedings, Gainsville, Florida.

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