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Pets are often brought in to have lumps, cysts, moles or warts checked out. A doctor may tell you to keep an eye on things- many do not require being removed immediately, if at all, but you should continue monitoring for changes in size, shape or consistency. We also see ticks masquerading as “lumps” hidden well by a furry coat and we’ll remove them right then.

Some lumps are questionable, and a veterinarian may want to take an FNA to help determine if further diagnostics are required or how quickly surgery should be considered and scheduled. A

fine needle aspirate is used to gather cells, so they can be viewed under a microscope. This tells us if the lump contains cells fatty in nature, possibly cancerous or a fluid. Growths and aspirates must be sent to a pathologist to determine exact cancers.

It is usually preferred to remove a suspected malignant cancer when identified and other fast-growing, non-malignant growths while still small. A smaller growth makes getting healthy cell margins around the entire area and having a smaller incision to heal, easiest to accomplish. A large growth may require longer time under anesthesia to remove, possibly a longer time on medications and more post-surgical visits while healing occurs. Removing growths when still relatively small is usually best for your pet and for your budget.

FNA’s should not be confused with the draining of fluid-filled cysts. While we do remove fluid using a needle and syringe that is not the primary goal of an FNA. FNA’s generally uses a 21-25g needle. For draining purposes, the needle and syringe are larger to accommodate the volume of fluid being drained.

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