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Charming: Oral Melanoma

Education > Patient Stories 17th April 2020

Early this year, Charming’s caregivers at Mercylight Adoption noticed a rapidly growing oral mass which soon prevented him from eating properly. Our surgeon Dr Dennis Choi performed a total hemimandibulectomy to surgically remove the oral melanoma, including excisions into underlying tissue and entire one side of the lower jaw to achieve adequate margins.

A variety of benign or malignant oral tumours are commonly seen in dogs. The presence of a noticeable swelling, halitosis and bleeding in the mouth are the most common signs. Other signs may include increased salivation, loss of teeth, difficulty eating and reluctance to be touched on the face.

With all tumour types, early detection greatly increases the chances of successful treatment. The diagnosis of an oral tumour will require a biopsy of the affected lesion. Diagnostic imaging (X-rays and CT scan) of the mouth and chest is useful to assess the size and extent of the tumour and aid in surgical planning.

For smaller tumours that have not spread, surgery offers the potential for complete cure. However, many oral tumours (such as in Charming's case) invade the underlying bone. Depending on the size and location of the tumour, successful removal may involve the removal of a part of the lower or upper jaw bone.

This procedure is well-tolerated by most dogs and they adapt quite well despite the cosmetic change. Some may require hand-feeding for a period of time before they learn to eat on their own again. Most importantly, they are no longer in pain or discomfort.

Charming is always cooperative when he comes in for chemotherapy. Thousands of shelter dogs like him are awaiting their forever homes. In these challenging times, they require more support for their daily and medical needs, especially adult black dogs whose chances of being adopted is lower. Visit MercyLight Adoption for more information about supporting Charming and his shelter buddies.