Canine oral melanoma

Clin Tech Small Anim Pract. 2007 May;22(2):55-60. doi: 10.1053/j.ctsap.2007.03.004.


Melanoma is the most common oral malignancy in the dog. Oral and/or mucosal melanoma has been routinely considered an extremely malignant tumor with a high degree of local invasiveness and high metastatic propensity. Primary tumor size has been found to be extremely prognostic. The World Health Organization staging scheme for dogs with oral melanoma is based on size, with stage I = <2-cm-diameter tumor, stage II = 2- to <4-cm-diameter tumor, stage III = > or = 4cm tumor and/or lymph node metastasis, and stage IV = distant metastasis. Median survival times for dogs with oral melanoma treated with surgery are approximately 17 to 18, 5 to 6, and 3 months with stage I, II, and III disease, respectively. Significant negative prognostic factors include stage, size, evidence of metastasis, and a variety of histologic criteria. Standardized treatments such as surgery, coarse-fractionation radiation therapy, and chemotherapy have afforded minimal to modest stage-dependent clinical benefits and death is usually due to systemic metastasis. Numerous immunotherapeutic strategies have been employed to date with limited clinical efficacy; however, the use of xenogeneic DNA vaccines may represent a leap forward in clinical efficacy. Oral melanoma is a spontaneous syngeneic cancer occurring in outbred, immunocompetent dogs and appears to be a more clinically faithful therapeutic model for human melanoma; further use of canine melanoma as a therapeutic model for human melanoma is strongly encouraged. In addition, the development of an expanded but clinically relevant staging system incorporating the aforementioned prognostic factors is also strongly encouraged.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Combined Modality Therapy / veterinary
  • Dog Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Dog Diseases / pathology
  • Dog Diseases / therapy*
  • Dogs
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mouth Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Neoplasm Staging / veterinary