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Canine Oral Melanoma Staging

Knowing the stage of a cancer helps your veterinarian determine your dog’s prognosis and recommend the best treatment options.

Different staging methods may be used for different types of cancers. For dogs with oral melanoma, primary tumor size has been found to be extremely prognostic. The World Health Organization (WHO) staging scheme for dogs with oral melanoma is based on size and metastasis.

For a more precise idea of the aggressiveness of the cancer, information about tumor size is combined with whether the cancer has spread to nearby bone or lymph nodes, or to distant areas of the body.

These photos give an idea of what the veterinarian is considering when staging your dog’s canine oral melanoma. All oral tumors, regardless of stage, should be considered malignant and potentially fatal. Your veterinarian can discuss treatment options that may help prolong your dog’s life.1

Clinical Staging of Canine Oral Melanoma1


Stage I tumor:
< 2 cm diameter, negative nodes

Stage II tumor:
2 to 4 cm diameter, negative nodes
   

Stage III tumor:
> 4 cm and/or positive nodes

Stage IV tumor:
any size with distant metastatic disease
NOTE: All oral tumors, regardless of stage, should be considered malignant and potentially fatal. Contact a specialist practicing veterinary oncology for more information about canine melanoma and possible treatments.

Clinical Staging of Canine Oral Melanoma1

  • Stage I tumor: <2 cm diameter, negative nodes
  • Stage II tumor: 2 to 4 cm diameter, negative nodes
  • Stage III tumor: >4 cm and/or positive nodes
  • Stage IV tumor: any size with distant metastatic disease.

1Bergman PJ, et al. Long-Term Survival of Dogs with Advanced Malignant Melanoma after DNA Vaccination with Xenogeneic Human Tyrosinase: A Phase I Trial. Clinical Cancer Research 2003;9:1284-1290.

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