Saturday, August 21, 2010

Veterinary fact of the day: chemodectomas

This is actually the veterinary fact of yesterday. During small animal medicine and surgery, a surgeon was discussing chemodectomas, tumors arising from chemoreceptors. A chemoreceptor is a cluster of cells which measures chemical changes in the body, such as oxygen level. The surgeon asserted that brachycephalic dogs (flat-faced dogs, like pugs and bulldogs) get chemodectomas more often than other types of dogs, possibly due to “chronic asphyxiation.” In other words, in his opinon (and that of other veterinarians), the fact that flat-faced dogs can’t really get enough air in through their tiny noses can actually result in cancer.

I’m not going to talk about the physiology behind how this would work, because we didn’t cover that in class. I will say that I think it is a failing of the veterinary profession as a whole to not discuss these kinds of issues more with people who are deciding what kind of dog to get. “That breed of dog is more likely to get this form of cancer” is a very different statement from “that breed of dog can’t get enough air into its system, which can cause all kinds of problems, including cancer. We should be encouraging breeders to breed a little more snout into these dogs so they can be healthy.”

What I did yesterday: Two hours of large animal medicine and surgery lecture. Two hours of small animal medicine and surgery lecture. Lunch! (Except I didn’t eat then, because I had a meeting. I ate during:) Two more hours of small animal medicine and surgery lecture. Suture practicing with friends! Gym! Home!

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