Any abnormal swelling or lump in the mouth needs urgent investigation. A swelling may be a cyst or something relatively benign however the mouth is the fourth most common site for cancer, early diagnosis and treatment is key for achieving a favourable outcome. Oral tumours can also present as a non-healing wound or ulcer. A lump on the gum is often referred to as an ‘epulis’ by vets. This is, however, a non-specific descriptive term only. Further investigation and biopsies may be required. This is also applicable for all oral swellings and lumps, not just cancer.
A tumour may be malignant or benign and only further investigation can determine this. The common tumour types are fibromas (benign), squamous cell carcinomas (malignant), melanomas (malignant), fibrosarcomas (malignant) and osteosarcomas (malignant. Acanthomatous epulis is more commonly known as an ameloblastoma and should be treated as a malignant tumour.
The earlier the better – frequent examination by owners and vets id required (daily tooth brushing is a great way to identify early). Because of the various appearances of tumours, any abnormality found in the mouth should be investigated promptly rather than observing for changes.
To achieve the best results, surgery is usually required. However some tumours are inoperable. Surgery may be palliative or more radical, aiming for cure. Adjunct treatment such as chemotherapy may also be required.