This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Note for Pet Owners:
If your pet has to have a surgical excision it is important that the wound is allowed to heal quickly without being disturbed. You can help by :

  • Avoiding unnecessary exercise for your animal
  • Stop your animal from rubbing, scratching, biting or otherwise damaging the site of the wound. Your veterinary practice will be able to provide suitable mechanisms (such as an elizabethan collar) to prevent this.
  • Advise your veterinarian as soon as you notice a problem with the wound such as a discharge or the wound opening up.

The term excision means to cut away. Surgical removal of tumours including benign and malignant cancers and other masses such as cysts, or a diseased portion of an organ is a common occurrence in veterinary practice.

Excision biopsy (removing a whole tumour or organ) is a useful technique which can both remove a tumour in it's entirety and allow it to be accurately identified by histopathology, whereas simple biopsy techniques of tumours and organs can sometimes miss a sample of the abnormal tissue.

The objective of an excision is to remove all the abnormal tissue to prevent recurrence and leave fresh healthy tissue which can heal by first intention post-operatively. Sometimes, as with malignant cancers, the surgical cut must be made into healthy tissue leaving a wide margin from the obvious (visible or palpable) abnormal tissue. This is because microscopic spread of a abnormal growth may already have occurred and yet the spreading cords into local tissue cannot be recognised by the surgeon.

Excision of malignant cancers should not be undertaken lightly, particularly if there is known to be metastatic spread to regional lymph nodes, or to remote organs such as the liver, lungs or brain.

In the treatment of cancers surgical excision is often combined with other treatment modalities such as chemotherapy, radiotherapyand hyperthermia.


Updated January 2016