Cat Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Cat Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Signs and Symptoms
Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC) is one of the many Cat Cancers that cats are susceptible to. This oral cancer falls into two types: Tonsillar and Non-tonsillar. As the name implies, the main criteria is whether or not it involves the tonsils.
Although more likely to leave disfigurement, the non-tonsillar OSCC is less likely to metastasize and therefore has a better prognosis.
In either case, there will be a visible mass. Unless you brush your cat’s teeth, or do oral checks regularly, the first indicators there is something wrong are Cat Drooling, facial swelling, bleeding from the mouth, Cat Bad Breath, oral discharge, and eventually Cat Loss of Weight and loose teeth if it invades the bone. You may notice your cat having trouble eating or drinking, or showing signs of facial sensitivity.
Unfortunately, as felines are what are known as ‘small predators’, their instincts lead them to avoid showing ill health, so the signs may be subtle until the cancer is more advanced.
As with most cancers, the earlier the identification, the better the prognosis. With cats, because of their generally small size, fussiness about having their mouth examined, and VERY strong determination not to show illness, OSCC is usually much more advanced before it is found.
Tonsillar OSCC metastasizes early, most frequently into lymph nodes, but also into the lungs, thyroid, spleen, liver, kidney and bone.
Non-tonsillar OSCC, although making up the majority of OSCC cases in cats, has only metastasized in 10-20% of cats studied. If located in the gums, it can be locally aggressive, invading the bone, but early intervention usually has a good outcome. Also, the farther forward in the mouth the cancer is, the better the outcome. (It’s usually found sooner, and it’s easier to work on.) Mandibular (lower jaw) is better than maxillary (upper jaw).
As with human cancers, there are 3 treatment options, used singly or in combination- surgery, radiation and Cat Cancer Chemotherapy. Surgery in cats is possible in less than 10% of the cases, and chemotherapy is not an option for this cancer. Radio-sensitzers improve the response to radiation, but the small size of their head means that the radiation can cause eye changes. On average, cats are euthanized within 3 months of diagnosis.
The first thing your veterinarian will do upon finding the tumor, is x-ray the chest to see if there are signs of metastasis. [A CT-scan or MRI will have more precision, but is also much more expensive.] Then there is generally a cat-sedated biopsy of the tumor to determine both whether it is malignant, and if it is SCC, rather than the deadlier melanoma.
Pain management and nutrition are two areas an owner can have a direct impact on the outcome of treatment. Less pain means less stress, and therefore more energy the cat can apply to healing. Nutrition is vital; cancer cachexia (weight loss) is caused by both an alteration in metabolism by the cancer, and discomfort or interference in the mechanics of eating. The less weight loss your cat has, the better chances of your cat responding.
OSCC is treatable, and if caught early, can have a positive prognosis.
Additional Cat Cancer Pages
Cat Cancer | Cat Skin Cancer | Cat Lung Cancer | Cat Pancreatic Cancer | Cat Cancer Prevention | Cat Cancer Diagnosis | Cat Gastric Cancer | Cat Lymphoma Cancer | Cat Squamous Cell Carcinoma | Cat Mouth Cancer | Cat Brain Tumor