Preventing Reproductive Diseases in Animals

August 16, 2014

'Joey' – the dog with testicular cancer


Patient Name:         Joey

Species/Breed:       Jack Russell TerrierAge:                           

Age:                           12 years old

Gender:                     Male (NOT NEUTERED)


Patient History

Joey was brought into the clinic as the owner noted that there was swelling of the left testicle. In addition to that, Joey was also not eating much and had been more lethargic for the past 2 days.

Joey was painful and swollen upon palpation of the left testicle. There was certainly a suspicion of testicular cancer although torsion (twisting of the spermatic cord and vessel) and infection were possible too. Tests such as complete blood count and biochemistry were run to find out if he could be infected as well as the status of his liver and kidneys.


The results for these came back normal, meaning infection was unlikely and the lethargy and inappetance were not due to kidney or liver diseases. As a diagnosis was important to his owner, another blood sample was tested for the oestradiol level. A high level can indicate Sertoli Cell Tumour.



Results came back a week later and Joey did indeed develop Sertoli Cell Tumour, diagnosed from a high oestradiol level from his blood. Sertoli Cell Tumour is a common tumour in dogs and 10-14% can spread to surrounding lymph nodes and other abdominal or thoracic organs. In his case, it was fortunate that he did not experience enlarged lymph nodes.



Right after a diagnosis was reached, Joey was castrated. It was the treatment of choice for Sertoli Cell Tumours that have not spread. Just days after the surgery, Joey was back in the game. He regained his appetite, put on weight and never looked better.



Left : Sertoli Cell Tumour.

Right : Normal testicular tissue


What are cryptorchids and testicular cancers?

Cryptorchidism is a condition where one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotal sac. Testicles fully descend into the scrotum by 1 month of age and if they do not, dogs are 13.6 times more likely to develop cancer of the testicles. Cryptorchidism is a heritable condition, passing down from fathers to sons. This means that male dogs with such conditions should not be used for breeding and this may be part of the reason why we encounter many cryptorchid male dogs in this country. They should be diagnosed when young and castrated as early as possible to prevent the progression to cancer.  These are routine surgeries and success rates are almost always 100%.


Testicular cancers are cancerous growths of tissue in the testicles and can be benign or malignant. The 3 most commonly recognised testicular cancer forms are Sertoli cell tumour, seminoma and interstitial cell tumours. If untreated, the tumour may grow and spread to other parts of the body. This may lead to unnecessary pain and suffering for your beloved pets.


Is my pet at risk?As only males have testicles, testicular cancer or testicular neoplasia can only occur in male animals. There is a higher recorded chance of testicular cancer if your dog suffers from cryptorchidism (undescended testicles). Although it is more common in dogs, there are many other recorded cases of testicular cancer reported in other species of animals.



What are the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer?

Gross examination and serum hormonal tests:Male Feminizing Syndrome:

-Asymmetrical size of testicles.-Scrotal or testicular enlargement-Distended abdomen (For dogs with cryptorchidism)-Increased serum levels of estrogen and progesterone (female hormones)-


Development of breast-Hair loss of the genital area-Hyperpigmentation of the penile shaft



How do you treat Testicular Cancer?

Pets with testicular cancers are castrated (the medical name for the surgery is orchidectomy). If the testicles are not descended (cryptorchidism), the vet will have to explore the abdomen for the retained testicles and remove them. If the cancer is tested to be malignant, your veterinarian may suggest a course of chemotherapeutic drugs for your pet.


How do I protect my pet from this condition?

If you own a male pet, the best preventive measure is to perform an orchidectomy or castration (removal of reproductive organs in male). This will ensure that your pet will never be affected by this potentially life threatening condition.

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