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Unfortunately this is one of the most common primary bone tumour in dogs, and approximately 80% of all canine skeletal tumours diagnosed as osteosarcomas. Although the exact cause for this condition to appear is unknown, there has been some evidence that derangement of bone growth or differentiation of new bone at the long bone metaphyses may be to blame. They are locally invasive and highly metastatic, which makes OSA particularly hard to treat.
To our regret, Bullmastiffs seem to be particularly prone to this disease and many of them are diagnosed as early as 4-5 years of age. In fact, I have recently heard of a case appearing in a 10 months old male puppy bred in Spain and I know of far too many dogs that suffer OSA. There seems to be a predisposition for large breed males to suffer the condition more often than females, and statistics say that large breed dogs are at a 150 times greater risk of suffering OSA. There is also evidence that neutered animals of either sex are twice as likely to develop OSA than intact animals, although the reason why this happens is not clearly understood.
The typical clinical sign for OSA is a lameness of the affected limb with or without a noticeable swelling or mass at the tumour site. The limping can be due to bone inflammation, micro-fractures, or pathologic fractures and usually when swelling is present, it is because of the extension of the tumour into the surrounding soft tissues. OSA being highly aggressive and metastatic in its own nature, over 90% of these tumours will have already spread around (metastasis) by the time of diagnosis, what makes the disease even more critical and the possibilities of healing almost impossible.
Since metastasis is the most common cause of death in dogs with Osteosarcoma, the use of chemotherapy is vital to ensure a longer term survival, in combination with surgery or radiation therapy in an attempt to decrease the metastatic rate. Yet long term survival does not happen too often although in recent years it has been possible to prolong the life of affected animals for as much as 12 to 24 months with the use of combined therapies (chemotherapy + radiation + surgery).
Luckily enough up to today no CASTRO-CASTALIA bullmastiff have been diagnosed of OSA. I have been quite careful and have tried to stay away from lines where OSA has been customarily present and this seems to be positively paying back.
(Original text written by Christina of Lima-Netto and Federico Baudin specifically for this web page and protected with Copyright. Not even whole can be reproduced not partially by any way, without Castro-Castalia's express assent in writing)
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