Management of transitional cell carcinoma of the urinary bladder in dogs: a review

Vet J. 2015 Aug;205(2):217-25. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2015.01.017. Epub 2015 Jan 26.


Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), also referred to as urothelial carcinoma, is the most common form of urinary bladder cancer in dogs, affecting tens of thousands of dogs worldwide each year. Canine TCC is usually a high grade invasive cancer. Problems associated with TCC include urinary tract obstruction, distant metastases in >50% of affected dogs, and clinical signs that are troubling both to the dogs and to their owners. Risk factors for TCC include exposure to older types of flea control products and lawn chemicals, obesity, female sex, and a very strong breed-associated risk. This knowledge is allowing pet owners to take steps to reduce the risk of TCC in their dog. The diagnosis of TCC is made by histopathology of tissue biopsies obtained by cystoscopy, surgery, or catheter. Percutaneous aspirates and biopsies should be avoided due to the risk of tumor seeding. TCC is most commonly located in the trigone region of the bladder precluding complete surgical resection. Medical treatment is the mainstay for TCC therapy in dogs. Although TCC is not usually curable in dogs, multiple drugs have activity against it. Approximately 75% of dogs respond favorably to TCC treatment and can enjoy several months to a year or more of good quality life. Many promising new therapies for TCC are emerging and with the close similarity between TCC in dogs and high grade invasive bladder cancer in humans, new treatment strategies found to be successful in canine studies are expected to help dogs and to be subsequently translated to humans.

Keywords: Animal model; Bladder cancer; Dog; Targeted therapy; Transitional cell carcinoma; Urothelial carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / etiology
  • Dog Diseases / genetics
  • Dog Diseases / therapy*
  • Dogs
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Ratio
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / etiology
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / genetics
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / therapy
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / veterinary*