Practical Matters: Ultrasonography's limits in staging tumors

Annette N. Smith, DVM, MS, DACVIM
Most oncologists perform staging in cancer patients to help determine treatment options and prognosis. To perform staging, we look throughout the body for evidence of tumor spread, based on the tumor's known biologic behavior. Often, an abdominal ultrasonographic examination is performed to help in the staging process.

If you are performing staging, remember that ultrasonography cannot differentiate metastatic disease from common aging changes in older dogs. For example, to differentiate nodular hyperplasia of the liver from nodular metastatic disease and avoid an erroneously poor prognosis, always perform fine-needle aspiration or biopsy of the liver.

Annette N. Smith, DVM, MS, DACVIM (oncology & small animal internal medicine)
Department of Clinical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
Auburn University
Auburn, AL 36849