Cytology of a mast cell tumor from a Labrador retriever at a magnification of 1,000x. By Joel Mills (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.
Cytology of a mast cell tumor from a Labrador retriever at a magnification of 1,000x. Image by Joel Mills [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
Fine needle aspiration (FNA) is a valuable tool in subcutaneous skin masses.

We have all had those lumps that, on palpation, you are sure are lipomas (being soft, freely mobile and slow growing). Indeed, the vast majority are just such benign problems – however, it is worth aspirating them to be sure.

Felt like lipoma

We recently had a case in a nine-year-old Labrador with a soft subcutaneous mass the owner had been aware of for a month. It felt just like a lipoma.

On checking the lump again two weeks later, this had got noticeably bigger. FNAs of the mass revealed the presence of a mast cell tumour.

Following excision with good 3cm margins, the Lab went on to make a full recovery.

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