TVT stands for Transmissible Venereal Tumor. It’s a naturally occurring tumour that is sexually transmitted between dogs through direct contact such as licking, sniffing, scratching, biting and even while the mum grooms her pups as well as sexual intercourse. It is more prevalent in areas where there are high numbers of un-neutered, free-roaming dogs such as Thailand. This is why neutering is so important.
While this type of tumour has been diagnosed throughout many areas of the world, it does seem to favour temperate climates, such as the USA, Southern Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.
It’s believed that transmissible venereal tumors are the oldest known form of cancer. It first emerged 11,000 years ago.
What are the symptoms of TVT?
As you can see from this picture one of the main symptoms of the tumour is the visible mass bulging from the surface membrane of the genitals. The tumours can also be found in other areas such as the mouth, anus, lymph nodes, eyes, muscles, internal organs and the brain.
The tumours can appear as small nodules. If left untreated the tumour can grow into a cauliflower, multi-nodule appearance. The diameter can be anything between 5mm up to 15cm. For the poor dogs the tumours often become inflamed and ulcerated, bleeding easily. The dogs can also suffer from a bloody discharge from the genital area.
How do you treat TVT?
In dogs whose immune systems aren’t able to fight the cancer such as stray dogs with a poor diet the tumours will continue to grow and spread to other areas.
In some case the surgical excision of small or localised tumours can be effective. However this may not be the best choice if the tumour is external as it carries the risk of contamination of the wounds.
Radiation therapy has been shown to be effective, although chemotherapy still remains the best way to treat TVT. Chemotherapy is usually administered over a course of 4 to 6 weeks and often results in remission of the tumour.
Recovery from TVT
The prognosis following treatment is often excellent. There’s a 90% chance of complete remission with the right treatment. If the tumours have spread to the dogs internal organs further treatment will be needed. It’s important to keep infected dogs away from other dogs to stop the infection spreading further.