Plasmacytoma In Dogs

Plasmacytoma is an uncommon tumor of dogs. There are two forms, medullary and extramedullary according to whether the growth is in the bone marrow or not, respectively. Today we will be discussing extramedullary plasmacytoma. This is a continuation of our series on round cell tumors which began with canine histiocytoma, followed by canine transmissible venereal tumor.

Canine extramedullary plasmacytomas are most likely to occur on mucus membranes and/or skin. The head is a common location for them, with the areas of the face, ears and lips frequently affected. However, lesions also commonly occur on the trunk as well as the feet and toes.

Typically canine extramedullary plasmacytoma is a tumor of older dogs. They arise with the appearance of raised, red nodules. Rarely is the general health of the patient affected unless the mass is in the mouth or rectum, in which case obstruction may occur.

Differential diagnosis must include multiple myeloma, especially if systemic disability is observed.

Treatment is primarily focused on surgical excision. However, given the typical locations in which they occur, surgical excision may, by necessity, be incomplete. For example, rectal and oral lesions may not allow removal of all of a tumor mass if large quantities of tissue must be excised. Sufficient skin to close a surgical site may exist for a small foot lesion, but this is a part of the body which has little skin to spare. Large lesions may require amputation.

On the other hand, growths on the trunk usually allow for wide surgical margins, removing all of the cancerous cells. In these cases prognosis is favorable.

For plasmacytomas which cannot be completely removed surgically, chemotherapy and radiation are good treatment options for many patients.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.


  1. Lisa says:

    Hi Everyone! I am so confused about plasmacytoma. I found a red bump on my Yorkie on the side of his belly, at the bottom of his right rib cage. I thought it would go away, but after comparing it to some pictures on the internet, I took him to the vet. They did a biopsy and it came back benign plasmacytoma. They suggested surgery, but my confusion comes from what the vet said and what I’ve read, which is that it is highly unlikely to turn into cancer or spread. That being said, I am wondering why the need to remove it. I hate to risk putting him under if I don’t have to, but am wondering if I am putting him at risk in some way if I just leave it.

    Please can someone clarify this for me.

    • There are two prime advantages to surgical removal. One, it gets the mass off while it’s still small. Even benign growths can get to be huge. Second, if the initial diagnosis was obtained by fine needle aspirate, a pathologist’s evaluation of the actual tissue can be more accurate in some cases. Thanks for reading, Dr. Randolph.

  2. My miniature Dachshund I recently acquired from a Dachshund rescue had to have multiple surgeries in a relatively short time period. The problem I am writing about is a plasmacytoma aboutvthe size of a marble beside her right inner toe pad. It makes it difficult for her to walk. One vet recommends just tunneling around it to remove the mass. The other on recommends removing the toe. Both say these types of growths recur. She is nine years old and I have only had her two weeks. She has only two canines left in her mouth, the rest were removed Jan. 17. She must be on C/D formula food for struvite stones. She had seven of those removed the size of nickels on Jan. 25. I got her Feb. 9. One would be hard pressed to find a sweeter dog. I would appreciate your recommendations. Thank you for them and this site!

  3. Tanya says:

    My almost 10 year old golden retriever had to have a lump removed from her leg and during this time we also had a red lump in her ear checked with a FNA. The lump in her ear is right in the centre on the cartilage of the inside of her ear and is the size of a pencil eraser and very red. The vet tried squishing it (not sure why) maybe trying to figure out what it was ??!! Anyway we did do a FNA to determine what it was when she had surgery for the lump on her leg to be removed.

    I would love to know your thoughts on the report below – this was just taken last week. My vet advised me to leave the lump and to just observe it for changes. Because of its location it is in the ear it requires a more difficult removal. Again the vet advised to just leave the lump and observe changes in the lump closely.

    Thoughts ? Welcome your thoughts ? Thank you kindly.

    We found out it is plasma cytona – the report said – two small smears from an aspirate of a red round smooth dermal mass attached to the cartilage in the ear are evaluated. The smears are mildly to moderately cellular and hemodiluted with a few small platelets clumps. The background is clear to lightly pale and eosinophilic and contains scattered bare/smudged nuclei and a few small streams of nuclear material admixed amongst variable numbers of erythrocytes . The nucleated cells consist of a round cell population. These cells have variable amounts of deeply basophilic cytoplasm and a single round to ovoid nucleus that is the centrically located and has a stippled to slightly clumped chromatin pattern and indistinct nucleoli. Some cells have a characteristic perinuclear clear golgi zone. Occasional binucleate cells are noted. Anispcytosis and anisokaryosis is mild to moderate within this population. Mitotic figure aren’t identified. A single Mott cell is noted. The remaining nucleated cells consist consist of scattered inflammatory leukocytes, that do not appear to be increased in relation with the degree of hemorrhage noted. Etiologic agents are not identified. Interpretation : plasma cytoma.
    The cytologic findings are consistent with a cutaneous plasma cytoma , cutaneous plasma cytoma are typically benign tumours seen in middle age to older dogs.

  4. Shannon C says:

    Our 11.5 year old bully mix had a growth removed from the back of his mouth. Came back today as plasmacytoma. Since he also had 2 teeth removed in the area, the vet can not say that she was able to completely excise it. She has been in touch with the oncologist on our next steps and what we are looking at in terms of this type of “cancer”, even though it did come back as benign. However, it’s a rapidly growing “cancer” if it was not completely excised. We are now faced with mandibular surgery, radiation (the former 2 will get good margins I’m told), medicinal (will talk more with her on all 3 on Sunday during the recheck) or do nothing. I know we won’t “do nothing” as the recurrence rate is 4-6 months. For 11.5 he’s in overall excellent health and 80 lbs of solid muscle. I always said, I would not put an animal through radiation, but I’m reading this may be the best option for this type of “cancer”. Regardless, I don’t want him in pain and to suffer. I guess we’ll see what Sunday brings after speaking with our vet at the follow up. Our furkids mean the world to us.

    • Thank you for writing, Shannon. As it happens, I sent a plasmacytoma patient to our favorite oncologist today, and he got a report with a pretty good prognosis. Fortunately for him, his growth is on the lip and can probably be excised completely. I would encourage you to be aggressive with her treatment and, when the time comes, you can let her go and avoid pain and suffering. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy each other in the time she has left, and keep it quality time. Thank you for reading

  5. Kristy says:

    My Cairn, Tucker, is 7.5 yrs old and had a “balloon” type mass under his tongue. Weirdest thing ever to see. On July 12th, he was scheduled to have his teeth cleaned anyway, so while under sedation, so the vet removed the growth. Tucker did great. The pathology report came back as plasma cell tumor. We’re hoping it doesn’t come back, as she feels she got all of it, but in such a small area, could not get as much extra tissue out as would have been desired. He’s really a trouper and honestly acting just fine, other than being much more clingy to me than usual.

  6. Kaitlin Coury says:

    Our dog was recently diagnosed with a plasmacytoma on the skin of his ankle. The FNA cytology report noted it had moderate metastatic potential. Our vet has recommended we have it removed and we have an appointment with a surgery specialist this week. My question is if we do have this removed, and it recurs or metasticises, is this a fatal condition or one that would simply mean more skin lesions needing removal and radiation/chemotherapy treatment? Our dog is 4 years old and well of course be willing to get him whatever care is recommended, I’m just unclear how grave the prognosis could possibly be.

    • Every patient is unique, and every case of plasmacytoma is unique. You need an oncologist. There may be one in the specialty practice where your surgeon works. If not, unless your surgeon has special training in oncology, if you want what’s best for your pet, consult with an oncologist first and get your questions answered. Thanks for reading

  7. Micho says:

    Hi there
    Thanks for all the info in this article. My 11 year old jack Russell terrier had this bump growing at the top of her left front legs…it grew really fast within one month or so. She has warts all over so at first I thought it might be that. My vet today examined it and she took a sample and then came back 5 mins after and told me it’s concerning because she sees plasma cells in the sample. She didn’t really tell me what my dog has but told me we could either watch it or remove it and she recommends removing it. I have her scheduled for surgery in 5 days. She said it’s an option after to send it to a lab to see if it has any signs that it may have spread anywhere although it’s very unlikely because she said whatever my dog has tends to be local.
    Should I have it tested? What do you think this is…and is surgery a good idea?

    • It’s going to be difficult for me to say what your dog has, since he’s there and I’m here and I haven’t examined your baby. Even if you sent us a picture, we probably wouldn’t be able to tell more. But, here’s what I can say. A pathologist can sometimes tell more about a Fine Needle Aspirate than a general practitioner. After all, they have special training to be pathologists. Doing so might give you a better idea of what you’re dealing with before surgery. On the other hand, your local doctor might be really darn good at cytology and know as much as the pathologist. When you read the article, you will see that there are limitations to FNA. Knowing what you’re dealing with in advance can be a big help, as it can tell the surgeon how aggressive she should be to obtain clear margins. I’ve written quite a bit about margins, so you are likely to obtain more information by using all of those links. By all means, please do not skip histopathology on the excised tissue. You might kick yourself later if you skip that. The question of whether to perform surgery is a discussion between you and your local veterinarian. She knows your dog best. We would love to have a report on your baby after the surgery and pathologist’s report comes back. We will say a prayer for him. And one for you. Thank you for reading

      • Micho says:

        Thanks for the reply!
        We removed the lump today and river did very well in the surgery. She has 6 staples now that we have to keep in for 14 days. The vet told us they keep the specimen for a year so we have time to think about testing it or not. We talked about it again and she said we don’t really have to because in most cases this is just confined to one spot. I want to do it anyway even though my mom is against it. I’ll probably just get them to send it out…better safe than sorry.
        I will keep you posted and thanks for the prayers.
        I saw two families putting their dogs to sleep today and it was heart breaking…this is what is pushing me more to test the lump. A few more years with river would always be great and knowing a problem a head of time would help.

  8. Terry B says:

    Dr. Randolph,
    I have found this website to be very informative and compassionate. My 10 yr. 9mo’s yellow lab was diagnosed with a plasmacytoma on her right upper side about midway between her front and rear leg. This was confirmed by my vet via fine-needle aspirate & cytology. Today is Wednesday and Lumpectomy is scheduled for Tuesday morning. Reading articles on this site have reassured me that I am taking appropriate measures to extend my relationship with my four legged friend. I know that she is coming to the end of a normal lab lifespan but if I can gain more quality time together it will be priceless. Thanks for the opportunity to share these events and how I am feeling.

    • We have said a prayer for your precious baby. Thank you for sharing her story with us, and, please, write back and let us know how she does.

      • Terry B says:

        Hannah had her tumor removed 1.3.17. It was oval shaped and approximately 3″x2″X1″. Some of the muscle that is used for twitching the back had to be removed. The tumor is on the way to pathology in Marshfield, WI. We will know the results in 5-7 days. Two drain tubes were installed so that requires keeping clean. I purchased a 6 pack of Hanes Tagless White V-Neck T-Shirts to cover and collect drainage. The extra at the bottom of the shirt is bunched and tied off with a rubber band. She is on two pain Med’s and one antibiotic. She is eating, going to the bathroom and resting comfortably. To give Med’s I use small pieces of bread with peanut butter. I bury the pill or capsule and make sure to stick the peanut butter directly on the tongue (upside down). Works great! We are awaiting the results from the pathologist to determine our next course of action. Thanks for your prayers!

  9. boxer1 says:

    My Dixie, a Boxer, had mast cell cancer that was ulcerous and fast growing in the lower abdomen region 6 months ago and there was enough skin to cut out the tumor and large areas around it and the vet said he was able to get good clearance around the entire area.

    Dixie healed up and has been a perky, happy little 8 year old. Last Thursday I found another lump at her rear mammary gland that is hard and the size of an egg, it came up over night. We took her back to the vet, ran blood work, aspirated the lump, took x rays (chest and such) and will be getting an ultrasound tomorrow. The vet suspects this is in her lymph nodes and I fear the worst.

    I too worry about Quality of life over quantity of life and will choose Quality. I am so scared right now. We lost Dixie’s mate to a sudden heart attack at 10 just a year ago and we are All still reeling from losing Mr. Merlin.

    I worry about choosing more surgery if that is an option and leaving her in pain, choosing chemo and if so what type, will I make her miserable until she dies or do nothing except pain medication when needed until we know we must say goodbye to our precious Dixie. I am lost and I do not know what to do.

    • Dear Boxer 1, No doubt you will be facing some challenging decisions in the next few days. Mast Cell Tumor is very challenging because it is so unpredictable. First, don’t rule out chemotherapy until you click here and read this post on chemotherapy. If you have not done so yet, click here to read our post on Mast Cell Tumor. Your local veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary oncology specialist, or he may consult with a specialist to determine the best treatment. I believe you are correct to choose quality of life over quantity, but don’t be too hasty to count Dixie out before she has had sufficient treatment and opportunities to heal. And, please keep us posted on Dixie’s progress through this Comment section. We will all be waiting for your replies. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  10. cortney says:

    Thank you for this informative post! Our dog Ella was diagnosed two days ago with a round cell plasmacytoma on her chin. She’s an 11 year old viszla with Addisons Disease thus she is on prednisone and Vcortin. I’m concerned about putting her through surgery (she went through surgery 6 months ago for another cancer that was on her head). If we left it what are the odds of it ulcerating? And what else could/ would happen?
    Thanks for the help!

    • Cortney, the challenge here is that surgical removal of plasmacytomas is first-line treatment. If the mass is small enough to excise completely Ella may not have to deal with it again. If the lesion is close to the mucocutaneous junction (where the skin meets the mucus membranes of the mouth), complete excision may be more challenging. I’m not sure why you are concerned about ulceration, but a board-certified veterinary oncologist could better answer that question. Please keep us posted on Ella’s progress and your decision-making process. Sincerely, Dr. Randolph.

  11. Sc says:

    Today our 5 and a half month old pug was diagnosed with plasmacytoma. It is on the top side of his paw. The veterinarian suggested we wait a month and see what it does. He said if it gets bigger or starts to bother him then surgery is the best option. I trust the veterinarian’s wisdom but was wondering if I should get a second opinion. He did a needle slide stain. Does this test show a definitive diagnosis or is there room for error? It really does not bother him, but I have already grown attached to him and want to make the best decision in his treatment. Thanks!

    • I don’t like going against what the attending veterinarian is saying because he’s there with your dog and I’m not. My three concerns would be echoed by what I wrote above: “Typically canine extramedullary plasmacytoma is a tumor of older dogs.” Are we 100% sure this is a plasmacytoma?

      And “Treatment is primarily focused on surgical excision. However, given the typical locations in which they occur, surgical excision may, by necessity, be incomplete.” and “Large lesions may require amputation.” Lesions on the feet are typically difficult to remove because there is so little skin to cover the resulting defect. Removing them early, while they are small, allows the best chance for complete surgical excision with clean margins and complete closure of the defect.

      Ultimately, it is up to you as to how aggressive you want to be with your pet. It is up to your veterinarian whether he wants to be as aggressive as you want him to be, or whether he declines the opportunity to perform surgery.

      Still, Step One is to be as sure as we can be about the cell type.

  12. Alison says:

    Hi. I appreciate the article. Thank you. I recently had a fine needle aspiration of the 1 cm raised red lump that appeared on the skin of my dog’s lower chest area. Cytology came back as a cutaneous plasmacytoma. I will be having it removed in the next month. My quick question: As you mentioned that this is an uncommon tumor and my dog is 4 years old, in your opinion do you think this could be a sign of more problems to come? Or did it just happen to be a random occurrence with her age?

    • Alison, I don’t think anyone is going so far out on a limb as to say your pet is never going to have problems with plasmacytoma again. The pathologist is going to be your best source for information here. Ask your local doctor these questions after the histopathology report comes back. One concern is, “Why did my dog develop a neoplasm that is more common in older dogs at such a young age?” That question might not have an answer. The best news of all, as I see it, is the location of the mass. Your veterinarian can be very aggressive in his excision of the mass, being sure to take advantage of the plentiful skin in that site to provide wide margins. Doing so will at least make it less likely that the plasmacytoma comes back in the same site. All of our readers and I will be waiting to hear the report, so please share with us when the surgery is finished and the pathologist’s report arrives. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

      • Alison says:

        I decided to have it removed last Thursday but I ended up opting out of more pathology. My dog ended up removing her sutures on Friday. So we were back at the vet on Saturday. He ended up putting in extra stitches. As I can’t get my dog (an Italian Greyhound) to wear an e-collar (I can tie it to the point of where I am worried it might be too tight but she can still get it off in a few minutes) or sit still I received some sedatives to use when I leave the house. Anyway, I am relieved to have it gone. It was frightening to see how fast the plasmacytoma grew over a couple weeks. If it ever happened again, I would get it removed as soon as possible.

  13. Nancy Monson says:

    My Tucker (almost 10) had burrs in his foot. I thought I had them. Soon after a mass developed in his foot. Vet said plasmacytoma and removed it along with one pad. He did well. About three weeks later a reoccurrence. We have just finished Alkernan (w/Predrisone) and it doesn’t seem to have helped (for one week). I really don’t want more of his foot removed. Any recommendations? Thanks. I can’t give up on him he was by my side every day with cancer and was a big help.

    • Nancy, you need more help than we can give Tucker by “remote control.” Tucker needs a referral to an oncologist, a specialist in cancer treatment. You had an oncologist when you had cancer, now it’s Tucker’s turn. Specialists require a referral, and your local doctor can recommend someone within driving distance of your home. Please let us know how Tucker does. We will say a prayer for him and will be eager to hear back from you. Sincerely, Dr. Randolph.

  14. Margaret Jones says:

    Hi Dr. Randolph, My approximately 14 year old (we think that’s her age, she is a rescue) border collie, Emma, has been bleeding on and off from her rectum for about a year. Sometimes it might be just a drop or two on the stool, other times it has been more globular and “muscousy”. Or sometimes, there is no trace of blood at all. It has never been a bright red, more of a dark maroon color. Our vet has X-rayed, probed, examined and has not been able to find the cause. A few days ago, she began bleeding bright red blood profusely from her rectum. While looking at her closely, my husband saw a protruding “mass” in her rectum. He was able to gently remove it and we rushed Emma and the “mass” to our vet. He referred us to another local vet who specializes in internal medicine. The internist’s lab analysis shows it to be a plasmacytoma. I have spoken with the internist about our options and he has recommended chemotherapy OR a round of tests to determine the extent of the cancer. He told me that most dogs can tolerate chemo pretty well and that after one injection it would be given as an oral dose at home. Given her age, I would think chemo would be a better option. But, I am concerned that it might be hard on her and I don’t want to negatively affect her quality of life. Can you weigh in with your opinion on chemo? I want to do whatever I can for Emma to keep her able to have a good life and keep chasing balls. Thank you so much for your help. Margaret Jones

    • I can do better than weigh in. I can have my favorite board-certified oncologist weigh in. Click here to read her opinion. I am so sorry that you are having to face this. You will thank yourselves for doing what you can. Just plan ahead to know when to say no; there will come a time when you have to let go. I had a patient with a rectal mass we had to let go of just this past Saturday. It was hard, but when her bleeding got to a point that it was uncontrollable, it was time. Neither we nor the pet’s owners wanted to see her have a massive bleeding episode at home. Our best wishes to you, and please stay in touch so we can know about Emma’s progression, Dr. Randolph.

      • Margaret Jones says:

        Hi Dr. Randolph, I am sorry that I haven’t gotten back to you to say thank you for the information and the kind advice. We decided not to go with chemo and went with a program of immune boosting supplements and vitamins. And it seemed to really help. There were some additional bleeding episodes, but very, very slight and far in between. Unfortunately, Emma developed what we think was degenerative myelopathy as her hips just began to get weaker and weaker. We eliminated everything else until that was left. She wasn’t in pain, so we got used to lifting her and putting throw rugs literally all over our house to give her traction. She was still a happy dog and still wanted to catch a ball..from a sitting position. But, on January 28, 2015, we let her go. She lost control of her bowels, and that upset her too much. The hardest thing I have ever had to do. I miss her every day. She was my “once in a lifetime dog”.
        We have since rescued two more dogs, a 15 month Border Collie/Malamute mix and a 7 year old former working Border Collie. Both are females and have issues…and we are working on that. They are loving, sweet dogs and they are keeping me busy. Thank you again for your caring about Emma. Your advice was really helpful and comforting to me.

        • We are so sorry for your loss, so happy that we could be a bit of help, and find it encouraging that you have consoled yourselves by jumping back in with a couple of new dogs. I can’t say that I’ve ever had a “once in a lifetime dog,” but my Brenda has. For her, it was our Peyton. Click here to read Peyton’s story. So, even if by proxy, I know what that’s like. It has been theorized that I have a favorite, though. Click here to read how that theory came to light. May both of your new dogs have long, happy lives. Thank you for your readership, Dr. Randolph.

  15. Janet says:

    Dear Dr. Randolph, Firstly, thank you for this informative site and for the effort that you put in to replying to people here; I think it’s wonderful. Secondly, I would be most grateful if you could answer a question for me; perhaps not so well-informed as yet on this subject, sorry for that. My adorable and fabulous Welsh collie has managed to reach approx. 20 years old (approx. because he was a rescue dog and thought to be around 4 when I got him). I have noticed in the last few days he has 2 small ‘nodes:’ 1 on his head and 1 on his ear. The one on his ear was red a couple of days ago, now normal flesh colour. The one on his head is now red. They are small, not entirely round, a bit like a tick in the early stages (slightly elongated) but definitely not ticks. I think he had one once on his ankle that was examined and thought to be probably a wart, but the hind leg was recently examined by another veterinarian who said she thought there was a lump in the upper right hind leg – possibly another fatty lump as he has a couple of those. I am wondering if the “nodes” are warts or cancers, if they can signify any other cancer, eg. in his leg, if there is a pattern. To provide some background, he started to go blind a few years ago following a bout of vestibular syndrome, is on vivitonin. He also has arthritis, beginning in his legs and later in his spine (his lower back now curves a bit) and has persistent weakness in his right hind leg, the focus of my question, along with the nodes. He had a myriad of treatments, including X-rays and swimming, but the weakness in the leg has persisted. He has not been checked for cancer specifically, but has has other large fatty lumps aspirated (to show fat). He has recently been fighting a long battle with repeated bladder infections and is just about to finish another course of antibiotics; still on special food. He seems to be getting weaker. I don’t want to subject him to too much unpleasantness, but am wondering if I should have him checked specifically for cancer, if it would be too much, or too late, or totally unnecessary. Based on the scant info I have provided, can you offer any suggestion or advice ?

    • 1. Janet, you are most welcome.
      2. To read more about vestibular syndrome click here.
      3. While your description of the lumps on your collie are excellent, there is no way I can diagnose them by the description alone. Click here to read a post that explains why. Your local veterinarian can examine the lumps and determine whether additional steps are warranted. Fine Needle Aspiration is a relatively painless and minimally-invasive way to look inside the lumps without surgery. Click here to read about FNA. That the lumps have redness that comes and goes is a bit of concern.
      I hope this has helped you. Please write back and let us know what your veterinarian finds out. You are most fortunate to have had your dog live to 20 years. Click here to read more about dog and cat aging. It took a lot of TLC for him to live so long.
      Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  16. ghsamia says:

    Hello Dr. Randolph,
    My 10 1/2 year old miniature dachshund has a small pinkish bump on his trunk. Here are the exact words from the report his veterinarian gave to me.
    “Source: Small round superficial lesion, firm, ventral truncal region according to the history and diagram.
    Description/Microscopic Findings/Comments:
    The smear is highly cellular showing a population of neoplastic round cells possessing round to ovate eccentrically located nuclei, an occasional small pale nucleolus and generally small to moderate amounts of basophilic cytoplasm. Occasional perinuclear clearing is evident imparting a plasmacytoid appearance. Some possess several small clear vacuoles. A few bi- and multinucleate cells are observed. There is an abundant pink amorphous background. Blood elements and dermal debris makes up the remainder of this specimen.
    Conclusion: Plasmacytoma
    Comment: Findings are compatible with a round cell tumor. Plasmacytoma as well as other round cell neoplasia would have to be considered. Excisional biopsy would be indicated for definitive diagnosis. A favorable prognosis would be expected based on cytologic features.”
    Our vet is at Banfield, and she says this is her “first plasmacytoma.” She wants to remove it and do a dental at the same time. I am concerned about long term anesthesia. Should I have it removed? Should I look for someone with more experience?
    This little guy is my love, and I want to make sure I am doing the right thing.
    Thanks so much for your help.

    • Thank you for a very complete history. Here is how I would handle this if I were a layman faced with your situation. Have a sit-down with the Banfield doctor and say something to the effect of, “I want to ensure that I have the best possible outcome in this situation. Are you confident that you can provide ‘clean margins’ (click here to read about the concept of clean margins) laterally and deep to the tumor, along with safety in anesthesia? I am both willing and financially able to take him to a board-certified surgeon and/or oncologist, if you think a specialist(s) could add safety and improve his outlook for a full lifespan.”
      Keep in mind that even though this is her first plasmacytoma, if she has a valid license, she has had surgical training in elliptical excision (click here to read about elliptical excision) and clean margins, and those foundational principles apply to every tumor removal we do.
      You might also ask her how confident she is that he will not experience infection at the surgery site from bacteria released into the bloodstream during dental prophylaxis. Some practitioners do such procedures together all the time. Others prefer to have them be separate procedures. While it is the surgeon’s choice, it is ultimately your decision. If you prefer, you could have them scheduled separately, a month or two apart.

      • ghsamia says:

        Thank you so much Dr. Randolph for your reply. I will meet with the Banfield veterinarian and make a decision. We may ask for a referral to the Veterinarian Specialty Hospital of the Carolinas. They have a location just a few miles from my home.
        Wishing you the best 2014 has to offer.

  17. Carolyn says:

    I was just told that my dog has a plasmacytoma tumor in his ear, but my veterinarian said that it is not cancer and he can remove it. I read here that if it is not all removed that chemotherapy and radiation should be used. My veterinarian said that if he can not get it all out it is not life threatening. Is this correct? Am sort of confused. I have a 9 year old cocker spaniel and his name is Toby. He had a tumor removed from his elbow about 3 years ago but it was not this type and he has been doing great and there are no other signs of a tumor any other place on him but in his left ear canal.

    • To quote from the movie, Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” I suspect that your veterinarian has information from a Fine Needle Aspirate having been read by a pathologist. Did the FNA say that Toby’s plasmacytoma was particularly not aggressive? Typically, plasmacytomas are notorious for local recurrence if the entire mass is not excised. I have removed entire pinnas from dogs because of these. The ear canal, especially the vertical ear canal, is another matter. Surgery there is very tricky. Parts of the horizontal ear canal are easier to work in and may more readily allow complete excision. Have another sit-down talk with your pet’s doctor and be sure you are both on the same page for your expectations. Some information may have slipped through the cracks in the translation. And, please keep us posted on Toby’s condition.

  18. Cindy says:

    My 7 year old Carolina Dog mix has been diagnosed with a plasmacytoma that is on the side of the large pad on his right back foot. Surgery has been recommended by my veterinarian. Since this in on the foot and they are going to have to remove part of the pad, should I have my general practitioner remove this tumor? Also, is this a cancerous tumor?

    • Cindy, we’re sorry to hear that your dog has been affected by plasmacytoma. The behavior of the tumor is well-covered in this post. As to who should perform the surgery it is a decision you and your GP should discuss together. If he feels he is qualified to perform the procedure AND you have confidence in him to do so, by all means, proceed. If, however, you have doubts, feel free to ask for a referral to a board-certified surgeon and/or oncologist. Many specialty practices house both specialties under one roof. Please keep us posted on your dog’s progress and outcome.

  19. Joan Best says:

    Hi Again, Dr. Randolph. Maggie Mae, my elderly Great Dane, has no longer been on aspirin and seems to have made as complete a recovery as an almost 13 year old can make. This past week while going through some old scrapbooks I found a picture of her taken the day I got her at 4 1/2 months – on December 18th, 1999. I’ve been off a year on her age! Just thought it might be of interest to you that she’s a bit more remarkable than I’d thought! Best wishes – Joan

  20. Joan Best says:

    Thank you for getting back to me so promptly, Dr. Randolph. For the past 3 days there has been no more sign of blood; Maggie has eaten as usual; however she appears to be very tired and is sleeping more.
    As to the aspirin – my doctor said I should take a baby aspirin a day. I thought with Maggie so elderly it might benefit her as well. Today I bought Senior dog food – smaller kibbles and I am adding a bit of rye bread pieces to the cat snack already in her meals. She likes this and as I said, is eatting and able to go outside as usual. Barry and I will hold on to our dear friend as long as she allows. Thank you again. Joan

    • Joan, I’m glad Maggie’s stool is blood-free, yet I’m concerned that she continues to be lethargic. If you can’t get her to see a veterinarian perhaps the house-call approach will work for you. Some laboratory tests might point a doctor in the direction he should go. Your thinking was on the right track with the aspirin, but it’s not applicable to most dogs. As dogs are primarily carnivores, their risk of atherosclerosis and thrombocytic clots is quite low, whereas people’s platelets (which come from thrombocytes) can be high, thus the aspirin is useful as a preventive measure in people. I doubt that your local veterinarian would approve of its use in Maggie’s case. It is my fervent prayer that you will have Maggie for a long, long time yet. Thanks for the good news, Dr. Randolph.

  21. Joan Best says:

    My Harlequin Dane Maggie is now almost 12. Yesterday I noticed a few drops of blood from her rectum as I was putting her out in the a.m. She ate as usual, and again later in the day. The blood is not steady. I have stopped her daily baby aspirin and now will watch to see if the drops return. Should I be taking a more active step to find out what is wrong? My problem is she will no longer get in my car, so transporting her is another issue. Plus she would be so afraid at the vet. At almost 12, I do not expect a miracle. I and my cat, Maggie’s dear friend Barry, have already begun our grieving. Thank you for your past responses to my inquiries. I wrote you last May 25, 2011.

    • Dear Ms. Best, It is good to hear from you again. I’m sorry it’s with bad news about Maggie. Of course, the best route is to have a doctor examine her and try to find the source of the blood. House-call and mobile practices abound these days, so there may be a veterinarian in your area who could see Maggie right there in your own home. Alternatively, knowing that the prognosis is not particularly good for a Great Dane in her age group, you could let Nature take her course. But, what if this isn’t something fatal, but something that could be fixed. You and Barry might end up having Maggie a lot longer. We just don’t know without that examination. You are smart to discontinue aspirin therapy, as it certainly can contribute to bleeding. I’m also curious about why she’s on an aspirin regimen. Please post another comment on this page and write back when you can. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  22. Elaine says:

    Thanks very much Dr. Randolph for your help and this very clear and concise report on Plasmacytoma. I will follow up on your suggestions.

  23. Elaine says:

    This article is very informative and easily understood. I had hoped to determine whether or not there is medication which could be bought to assist a dog that has had plasmacytoma removed from the mouth.

    • Elaine, you can be referred to a board-certified veterinary oncologist by your general practitioner for recommendations for followup chemotherapy, radiation, etc. Alternatively, if your pet’s doctor has time he might be able to talk to an oncologist he has a relationship with, or the veterinary college he graduated from. Best wishes on his full recovery, Dr. Randolph.

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