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Ask the Veterinarian/Round Cell Tumor


I have a 3 year old Jack Russell who started developing a lump on her ear about a month and a half ago. Assuming it was a bug bite she kept scratching we just left it alone hoping it would go away. At this point it's about the size of a fat tick. I took her to the vet today and they did a needle aspiration and found it is a round cell tumor. I was told to keep a cone on her head for a couple weeks so she doesn't scratch it and worsen the inflammation. Hopefully it will regress in that time but if not they will remove it and do a biopsy. I didn't ask too many questions because they didn't seem too concerned about it. Once I got home I got curious and thanks to the brilliant information on the Internet I'm now quote a bit more concerned and wishing I had asked them more questions.

I'm really just looking to put my mind at ease right now. Is this something I shouldn't be really concerned about or is it more of a serious issue than the vet made it out to be?

A Round Cell Tumor is not a specific diagnosis. The round cells are just the shape of the cells, but they can be many different types of cell.  Some of the round cells can be benign while others are malignant.  If it is still small, removal now would probably be curative.  In my practice, I have a CO2 Laser and we would just vaporize away all of the affected tissue.  There is no tissue remaining to send off for analysis.  On the ear, it is very hard to do a resection of the tumor mass with a scalpel and suture it closed.  But doing it that way provides tissue to send to a pathologist to find out if it is anything serious. Talk to your vet and if you want it removed talk to them about the best way to do it (scalpel or laser).

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Dr. Louis N. Gotthelf


Dermatology and ear diseases of dogs and cats


I am the author of "Small Animal Ear Diseases; An Illustrated Guide" published by W.B. Saunders. I have over 25 years of clinical experience with a special interest in dermatologic conditions and ear diseases.

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