A new nonsurgical treatment option for canine mast cell tumors

dvm360dvm360 May 2023
Volume 54
Issue 5
Pages: 34

Developments in veterinary oncology offer a new therapy for patients with nonmetastatic tumors

Content sponsored by Virbac

Presenting at the Fetch dvm360® Conference in Charlotte, Sue Ettinger, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology), said quick action is the name of the game when it comes to mast cell tumors.1 Mast cell tumors are the most commonly diagnosed skin tumor in dogs, and in nearly all cases can be accurately diagnosed with a simple needle aspirate.2 That’s why her motto is “See something; do something. Why wait? Aspirate.” The need for speed applies to pet parents, as well. Teaching clients to monitor a pet for lumps and bumps is crucial for early detection of a tumor, as a monthly at-home exam can allow for a quicker response to a potential problem, she said.

Early detection allows for a new nonsurgical treatment option

During her presentation, Ettinger shared a number of the latest developments in veterinary oncology diagnostics and treatments. One such development was a new injectable treatment for mast cell tumors that are detected before they have metastasized. The FDA-approved tigilanol tiglate injection (Stelfonta, Virbac) is a prescription intratumoral injection, specifically designed to treat nonmetastatic cutaneous mast cell tumors and nonmetastatic subcutaneous mast cell tumors located distal to the elbow or hock that are 10 cm3 or smaller.

In a randomized, controlled clinical trial, 75% of dogs achieved complete tumor resolution in a single injection within 28 days. 87% of dogs achieved complete tumor resolution when accounting for dogs who were retreated after 28 days after failing to achieve a complete response. At 12 weeks after a single injection, 96% of dogs remained disease free, and complete wound healing was observed 98.2% of cases within 3 months.3

While describing the drug’s unique modes of action are beyond the scope of this article, Ettinger explained how the treatment leads to necrosis of the tumor and the eventual sloughing of the tumor within 3 to 14 days. “As my colleague says, the bad separates from the good and the bad that falls out is the mast cell tumor,” said Ettinger. She explained that the wound is able to heal with minimal intervention and no antibiotics.


  1. Ettinger, S. Diagnosis and treatment of canine mast cell tumors in 2023: latest advances. Presented at Fetch dvm360® Xonference; Charlotte, North Carolina. March 24-26, 2023.
  2. Mast cell tumors. American College of Veterinary Surgery. Accessed March 28, 2023. https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/mast-cell-tumors
  3. De Ridder TR, Campbell JE, Burke-Schwarz C, et al. Randomized controlled clinical study evaluating the efficacy and safety of intratumoral treatment of canine mast cell tumors with tigilanol tiglate (EBC-46). J Vet Intern Med. 2021;35(1):415-429. doi:10.1111/jvim.15806
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