Spaying at the time of mammary tumor resection has no measurable effect on the rate of tumor reoccurrence. Spaying prior to the first or second heat period significantly reduces the likelihood of mammary tumors. Spaying anytime up to 2.5 years of age (but prior to five heats) will have some protective effect, but after 2.5 years of age, spaying is not effective in the prevention of mammary tumors.
Biopsying mammary tumors prior to removing them is not recommended for the following reasons:
Instead, we recommend a single surgical procedure in which all affected tissue or potentially affected tissue is excised.
Depending upon the extent of the mammary tumors, different surgical procedures are recommended. In some cases only a single mammary gland will be removed. More commonly, we will excise a group of the glands or all five glands on one side plus the associated lymph nodes. When mammary glands on both sides are involved, two separate surgeries done four weeks apart may be required to remove each side. In general, we recommend more extensive excisions to insure as complete removal of affected tissue as possible.
The suture line will range in length from an inch or so to the full length of the body, from the axilla to the vulva. On occasion, small rubber drains will be inserted in the inquinal (groin) region to prevent fluid accumulation. These drains are removed 3-4 days after surgery. All dogs are bandaged after surgery. These bandages are usually removed 3-4 days after surgery. Some dogs may require an elizabethan collar to discourage them from chewing at the sutures.
The dog's activity must be curtailed post-surgically to avoid fluid build up along the suture line or dehiscence (wound gaping). Stairs should be avoided and only short leash walks allowed. Pathologic diagnosis of the tumor will be available 5-7 days after surgery and we will telephone you with these results. Ten to fourteen days after surgery, the sutures will be removed.