Are pets in danger from developing Mesothelioma?
By Warren Miller. 7th Febuary 2014
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. However, the link between exposure to asbestos and the cancers is less well documented than it is in humans. It is more frequent in cattle and dogs, but represents just 0.2 % of the total of canine cancers (neoplasms).
The Mesothelioma tumours can also develop in pet cats, horses, pigs and other species. Exposure to some pesticides is a factor that may increase the risk of the disease in animals. Apart from exposure to asbestos, malignant mesothelioma in pets has another thing in common with human cases of disease: neither illness can be cured.
Are pet dogs susceptible to Mesothelioma?
Yes they can be, though it is very rare. Some breeds are more susceptible than others, with a greater risk found in german shepherds and Irish Setters. Dogs can inhale asbestos from old buildings or from secondary exposure from their owners clothing.
Vets who have studied dogs with mesothelioma concluded that exposure to toxic materials other than asbestos may also increase the risk developing the disease. These include pentachlorophenol, often used as an wood preservative, germicide, herbicide or fungicide.
Dogs with Pericardial Mesothelioma may present with right sided heart failure and acute tamponade. The disease tends to be found in older dogs, but there has been a reported case of meso found in a 7 week old puppy which suggests that a congenital form may exist.
Diagnosis can be similar to humans with CT scans and biopsies of the suspected areas. There are limited treatment options, most veterinary oncologists advise a chemotherapy drug called Cisplatin to be implanted directly into the tumour.
An experiment was conducted in Italy to evaluate the combination of platinum-based chemotherapy with the drug Piroxicam. They administered this combination to 2 dogs and a cat, all of which had mesothelioma.
Extract from the Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research.
Can domestic cats get Mesothelioma?
Malignant mesotheliomas are rare tumours in domestic cats, but there are recorded cases. Most affect the chest area (thoracic cavity), but are difficult to accurately diagnose as symptoms are often similar to other more common diseases. Cats may present with a very thin body with a pot belly.
Treatment is difficult and expensive and the prognosis poor, so most cat owners will euthanize when there is a confirmed diagnosis. Cisplatin is used to treat the disease in humans and dogs, but is fatal to cats. Carboplatin is a newer drug and may help to control the growth of the tumours and the removal of fluid can be done to make the cat as comfortable as possible.
Can horses and cattle develop Mesothelioma tumours?
Horses can by affected by pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. Clinical signs included respiratory distress, depression and pleural pain. Histologically, the masses comprise large, variably shaped, and occasionally multinucleated neoplastic cells.
Mesothelioma in cattle can occur in the abdominal and thoracic cavities, from birth onwards. It can be difficult to detect as clinical signs are vague. These may present as anorexia, dyspnea, colic or acute peritonitis depending on the organs involved.