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Skin cancers

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Etiology

Some skin tumors are visible at birth, but as with nearly all cancers, there seems to be an increased incidence of cancers in older animals. Cancer is not a real common ailment in goats. There is certainly no expectation that the lay person will be able to distinguished between a benign and malignant growth. Perhaps the most frequent locations for skin cancers are around the mouth, ears, vulva, scrotum, udder and corona of feet. These may be from exposure to sunlight. An occasional wart, particularly on the teats, may become cancerous.
Symptoms
Whenever there is a sore which fails to heal despite persistent treatment measures, one should be suspicious of malignancy. Cancerous growths are apt to be dark in color, irregular in shape, may be a little bloody or have an "ulcerated" surface and just do not form a regular healing scab with fresh healthy tissue underneath. The word "cauliflower" is often associated with malignancies, but this is not a valid diagnostic tool because many benign growths also have this appearance, as well as other diseases such as "soremouth." Cancerous growths tend to be deep and firmly attached to the surrounding tissue. Many growths that cause anxiety are merely harmless cysts; in fact, animals can be born with these mysterious little lumps which remain the same size throughout life.
Treatment
Whenever you have a situation that sounds like the symptoms described above, a visit with the vet is in order. Not only can he/she help diagnose the situation; if surgery should be decided upon, only he/she possesses the skills to remove enough of the surrounding tissue to given a reasonable chance of permanent cure. The importance of this factor cannot be over-estimated. Even if the growth is not cancerous, its removal may still be in order.
Prevention
A brief word about warts. These frequently occur on the teats or udders of goats. It is generally recommended that their removal be delayed until they have reached their maximum size and are beginning to get smaller.

Prompt treatment of all sores may help prevent cancers.

Comments
Skin cancers in goats are really quite rare. It is impossible for the layman to be able to make a positive identification.


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