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Canine mast cell tumours: a review of the pathogenesis, clinical features, pathology and treatment


Monika M. Welle, Postfach 8466, Länggassstr. 122, CH-3001 Berne, Switzerland. E-mail:


Mast cells (MCs) are well known for their neoplastic transformation in solitary and multiple cutaneous mast cell tumours (MCTs), as well as visceral and systemic mastocytosis. Dogs have a unique risk of developing cutaneous MCTs, and they account for 7% to 21% of all canine skin tumours. The aetiology of canine MCTs is unknown but is probably multifactorial. This article reviews up-to-date knowledge on the pathogenesis, the clinical presentation, the clinical prognostic factors, the diagnostic workup including clinical staging, cytological findings, histological findings and the various grading systems which have been evaluated based on morphology, the assessment of proliferation markers and other factors such as vessel density. Furthermore, detailed information about current treatment protocols for canine cutaneous MCTs is provided.