Osteosarcoma is a malignant tumor of the bone. These tumors typically affect a bone in the limbs such as the shoulder,
stifle or knee, but occasionally, these tumors can affect bones in the skull, ribs or spine. Oral osteosarcoma is less common
limb osteosarcoma and represents approximately 25% of all cases. In the case of oral osteosarcoma, 27% involve the
lower jaw and 16-22% involve the upper jaw.

Please refer to the section on
oral tumors in cats and dogs for complete overview of how oral tumors are diagnosed.

What is the treatment and prognosis for oral bone cancer (osteosarcoma) in cats and dogs?
The prognosis for oral osteosarcoma is better compared to limb osteosarcoma due to its lower metastatic potential. The
median survival time for dogs with lower jaw osteosarcoma is 14-18 months after surgery, and 1 year survival rate ranges
from 35-71%. The median survival for upper jaw osteosarcoma is 5-10 months after surgery, with 17-27% of dogs being
alive one year later. The local recurrence for upper jaw bone cancer is 83-100% and the majority of dogs with upper jaw
osteosarcoma die as a result of local tumor recurrence. Metastasis to distant organs have not been reported in these dogs.
In order to best control the local tumor, complete surgical removal must be achieved. In a study of 60 dogs with skull
osteosarcoma, which also involved the lower and upper jaw, complete surgical removal of the tumor resulted in median
survival of 1503 days compared to 199 days for those whose tumors were not completely removed. The role of
chemotherapy in treating oral osteosarcoma is currently unknown.

Are there any clinical trials investigating new treatments for oral osteosarcoma in cats and dogs?
Although there are no clinical trials specifically designed to test new treatments for oral osteosarcomas, there are several
clinical trials available for cats and dogs with any tumor type for which your pet may qualify. To learn more about these trials
(which are partially or fully funded by the institutions), please visit the
Dog Clinical Trials (any tumor type) or Cat Clinical
Trials (any tumor type) section.  

To learn more about veterinary clinical trials in general, please visit the
Pet Clinical Trials section.

Does cancer cause pain in cats and dogs?
Pain is common in pets with cancer, with some tumors causing more pain than others. In addition to pain caused by the
actual tumors, pets will also experience pain associated with cancer treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy or
chemotherapy. Untreated pain decreases the pet's quality of life, and prolongs recovery from the illness, treatment or injury.
It is, therefore, essential that veterinary teams that are taking care of pets with cancer should also play a vital role in
educating pet owners about recognizing and managing pain in their pets. The best way to manage cancer pain in pets is to
prevent it, a term referred to as preemptive pain management. This strategy anticipates pain ahead of time and administers
pain medication before the pet actually experiences pain, thus ensuring the pet's maximum comfort.

To learn more about how to recognize pain in pets with cancer and what cancer pain management options are available for
your pet, please visit the
Cancer Pain Management section.

How important is nutrition for pets with cancer?
Cancer cachexia (a term referring to progressive severe weight loss) is frequently observed in pets with cancer. Pets with
cancer lose weight partly because of lack of appetite and partly because of cancer-induced altered metabolism. Some of the
causes for decreased appetite are related to the cancer itself (for example, tumors may physically interfere with food
chewing, swallowing, and digestion process) and some may be related to the side effects of cancer treatment (for example,
some chemotherapy drugs cause nausea and vomiting, and radiation therapy can cause mouth inflammation).

Proper nutrition while undergoing cancer treatment is essential to maintain your pet's strength, improve survival times,
quality of life and maximize response to therapy. Adequate nutritional support was shown to decrease the duration of
hospitalization, reduce post-surgery complications and enhance the healing process. Additionally, pets with cancer need to
be fed diets specifically designed to provide maximum benefit and nutritional support for the patient. To learn more, please
visit the
Nutrition for Pets with Cancer section.

Where do I find a qualified veterinary oncologist?
To locate a qualified veterinary oncologist worldwide who can discuss with you appropriate cancer treatment plan for your
pet's cancer condition, please visit the "
Locate a veterinary oncologist" section.  

  • Withrow Stephen J, and David M. Vail. Small Animal Clinical Oncology. St Louis: Saunders Elsevier, 2007.
  • Morrison Wallace B. Cancer in Dogs and Cats: Medical and Surgical Management. Baltimore: Williams&Wilkins, 1998.
Oral Bone Cancer (Osteosarcoma) in Cats and Dogs
Comprehensive guide to cancer diagnosis and treatment in cats and dogs
© 2007 Pet Cancer Center. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Last updated 2/19/2017