Exocrine Pancreatic Cancer in Dogs

Exocrine Pancreatic Cancer

Exocrine Pancreatic Cancer

Exocrine pancreatic cancer is uncommon in dogs. Pancreatic exocrine cells work to produce digestive enzymes. If your dog is diagnosed with exocrine pancreatic cancer it means that cells in the pancreas are overproducing. Tumors arise from the epithelial tissues of the pancreas and are mostly adenocarcinomas that are ductular or acinar in origin (malignant tumors arising from duct cells or acinar cells).

Benign exocrine pancreatic tumors in dogs are also rare. Nodular hyperplasia (hard, pale elevations on the surface of the gland) is common in dogs.

Are Certain Breeds Prone to Canine Pancreatic Cancer?

Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Airedale Terriers, and Boxers are breeds that are predisposed to this type of cancer.  Older dogs as well as female dogs seem prone also.

Are There Any Known Causes of Canine Pancreatic Cancer?

Like all other cancers, the etiology of exocrine pancreatic cancer is also unknown.

What are the Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer in Dogs?

The symptoms include lack of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, anorexia, vomiting, diabetes mellitus, abdominal distension, jaundice in the eye, ascites (accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity), and depression.

Sometimes the signs may also be accompanied by pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Other non-clinical symptoms like mild anemia, hyperglycemia, neutrophilia (abnormal increase in the number of a type of white blood cells), and bilirubinemia (presence of excess bilirubin in the blood), may also be present. In extreme cases, signs of pancreatic insufficiency (inability to digest food properly due to a lack of digestive enzymes made by the pancreas) may be exhibited.

Shop For A Cure Generic Ad

What is the Treatment for Pancreas Cancer in Dogs?

The diagnostic techniques consist of positive contrast upper gastrointestinal x-rays, flow cytometry, and ultrasound.

Radiographs may reveal delayed gastric emptying and compression or invasion of the duodenum. In ascites, there is an abnormal growth of cells that may be revealed on cytologic evaluation.

Flow cytometry is useful in differentiating between malignant and benign abdominal effusions.

Ultrasonography is useful in localization of the primary tumor, documentation, aspiration of fluid, and metastasis to liver and regional lymph nodes.

Complete pancreatectomy or pancreaticoduodenectomy (a procedure in which the head of the pancreas, the entire duodenum, a portion of the jejunum, the distal third of the stomach, and the lower half of the common bile duct are removed, to relieve obstruction caused by malignant tumors) is sometimes performed but only in extreme cases. Palliative gastrointestinal bypasses (allow the passage of food into the intestine) is a temporary option if there is bowel obstruction.

What Should I Feed My Dog with Pancreatic Cancer?

The best things you can feed your dog with cancer are foods that feed the dog, not the cancer. There are many suggested foods out there, but we have put together a blog of 8 Superfoods You Can Feed Your Dog to Beat Cancer.

How Long Can a Dog Live with Pancreatic Cancer?

Since canine pancreatic cancer is often not found until it has metastasized into other organs, the survival time is measured in days.

Thank you for utilizing our Canine Cancer Library. Please help us keep this ever-evolving resource as current and informative as possible with a donation.


Withrow and MacEwen’s Small Animal Clinical Oncology – Stephen J. Withrow, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology), Director, Animal Cancer Center Stuart Chair In Oncology, University Distinguished Professor, Colorado State University-Fort Collins, Colorado; David M. Vail, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology), Professor of Oncology, Director of Clinical Research, School of Veterinary Medicine University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, Wisconsin 

Become A Core Member Web Ad

Other Articles of Interest:

Blog: How To Help Pay For Your Dog Cancer Treatment Cost: 7 Fundraising Ideas

Blog: What Are Good Tumor Margins in Dogs and Why Are They Important?

Blog: Dispelling the Myths and Misconceptions About Canine Cancer Treatment

Blog: Financial Support for Your Dog’s Fight to Beat Cancer

Blog: Cancer Does Not Necessarily Mean A Death Sentence

Blog: What To Do When Your Dog Is Facing A Cancer Diagnosis – Information Overload

Blog: Dog Cancer Warning Signs: Help! I Found a Lump on My Dog

Common Chemotherapy Side Effects

Top 10 Early Warning Signs of Cancer in Dogs