Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the urinary system

Transitional cell carcinoma is a malignant tumor of the transitional epithelium layer of the urinary tract. It commonly affects the bladder but involvement of other parts of the urinary system is also possible. The tumor spreads and causes thickening of the bladder or tract wall resulting in function loss and possible lumen obstruction. Spreading to other sites (lymph nods, lungs) in the body is common. This tumor carries a grave prognosis with only about four to six month survival time.

Older and middle aged dogs are at high risk, while cats are rarely affected. The tumor is more common in females and has a predilection for small breeds such as Scottish terrier, West Highland white terrier, Shetland sheepdog, Eskimo dog and dachshund.

Signs may not be obvious at the beginning and include blood in the urine, frequent and difficult urination, urinary incontinence and house soiling. Treatment with antibiotics for presumed urinary tract infection may be temporarily effective.

Diagnosis can be made by x-rays, ultrasound and bladder cytology.

Treatment is mainly medical. Local radiation treatment may prolong life but often result in bladder deformity and dysfunction. This tumor is prone to shed cancerous cells and surgery might increase metastasis (spreading to other parts) unless done under special precautions. Post surgical recurrence is also very likely.  Effective medications include Piroxicam and Cisplastin.

Close monitoring of patients is necessary, as chemotherapy side effects and tumor progression need to be addressed.

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