Pancreatic Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) in Dogs

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Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma in Dogs

A neoplasm, or tumor, can be either benign or malignant in nature. A carcinoma is a type of malignant tumor found in both humans and animals, and tends to be particularly malignant, with recurring growth after surgical excision. Adenocarcinomas are characterized as glandular in structure, and/or originating in the glandular tissue. This type of tumor is rare in dogs, but like other carcinomas it grows rapidly and metastasizes to distant parts and organs of the body. In most dogs metastasis is found at the time of diagnosis, thus making treatment difficult for these patients. Similar to other types of cancer, adenocarcinoma of the pancreas usually affects older dogs (more than eight years). It can occur in any breed or gender of dog, but older female dogs and Airedale terriers have been found to be at higher risk than others.

Symptoms and Types

There are no specific tumor related symptoms. Following are some of the signs commonly seen in patients with adenocarcinoma of the pancreas:

  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Jaundice
  • Poor digestion
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain


This type of cancer is classified as idiopathic, as the exact cause is still unknown.


Your veterinarian will perform a complete blood profile, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. A determination of the lipase (an enzyme released by the pancreas) level will assist your veterinarian in the diagnosis, as it is often elevated in a majority of patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Your veterinarian will also perform abdominal radiographs in order to determine the presence of any masses or changes in the pancreas tissue. Ultrasonography is also used to further improve diagnostic accuracy. If the above mentioned procedures fail to establish a definite diagnosis, your veterinarian may recommend a surgical biopsy of pancreatic tissue to confirm diagnosis.

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