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Vet Q. 2004 Dec;26(4):156-69.

Mast cells and canine mast cell tumours. A review.

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Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Oncology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.


This article reviews the literature on mast cells and tumours derived from mast cells in the dog. Mast cells play a central role in inflammatory and immune reactions. Mast cells, normal and neoplastic, contain and release important biologically active substances: heparin, histamine, eosinophilic chemotactic factor and proteolytic enzymes. Mast cell tumours occur in the dog, particularly in the boxer and related breeds, in the skin and less frequently in the intestines. Cytology usually provides an accurate diagnosis, but histological examination adds further information concerning the histologic grade and the completeness of surgical therapy. Cutaneous mast cell tumours should be regarded as potentially malignant and therefore be removed widely (3 cm. margin). Local recurrence, regional and distant metastases together with paraneoplastic disorders may cause the death of the pet. Histologic grading (2 or 3 grades) and clinical staging together with kinetic parameters and breed (boxers have relatively benign tumours) are important prognostic parameters. Based on prognostic criteria, surgical treatment should be completed with adjuvant radiotherapy, corticosteroids and eventually with combined chemotherapy. A novel, promising therapy is the application of the receptor kinase inhibitor. The study of the pathogenesis of mast cell tumours received new impetus by the finding of mutations, deletions and duplications, in exons 11 and 12 of the C-kit oncogene. Further study of physiological and oncological aspects of mast cells are favoured by the availability of mast cells isolated from spontaneous mast cell tumours and of cultured cell lines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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