Cat Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Veterinarian Reviewed on April 1, 2014 by Dr. Janice Huntingford

Cat Squamous Cell Carcinoma

There’s a malignant form of cancer that occurs commonly in cats, called squamous cell carcinoma. Most often, squamous cell carcinoma occurs on the skin, on the feet, and in the mouth, but can also occur in the bladder, eyes, Cat Lung Cancer or esophagus, as well as other places on or in a cat’s body.

What are the symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma in cats?

Usually, the owner will see a growth or mass on their cat. This growth or mass can have a variety of appearances, from a rather ubiquitous raised area on the skin that appears red, to a “growth” that’s shaped like a cauliflower on the cat, or a shallow or deep sore on the skin, sometimes with a crust over the top of it. The carcinoma’s appearance can also change over time.

Owners will usually discover that their cats have this growth for a number of different reasons. For example, maybe their cat is Cat Limping, and they discover a sore on the foot. Or, an owner may be petting his or her cat and discover a lump or sore on the skin. If the squamous cell carcinoma is located internally, such as within the nose, there may be a discharge, and the cat’s face and nose can also become deformed from the growth.

Diagnosing squamous cell carcinoma

If an owner discovers a suspicious growth or mass on his or her cat, it’s imperative to visit the veterinarian immediately. The veterinarian will usually collect cells from the tumor and study them, either by doing a biopsy with a needle or by using a slide or other object to simply gather cells directly from the area. For example, if the veterinarian uses a slide to collect cells, he or she will simply press the slide on top of the growth or area so that the cells adhere to the slide.

In some cases, the veterinarian may decide that the tumor or growth should be at least partly removed and then studied in detail for accurate diagnosis. By removing at least part of the tumor for study, it can be examined up close under a microscope so that cell structure can be studied more thoroughly.

In addition, other tests, too, may be performed, such as urinalysis, blood tests, or ultrasound or radiography of the abdomen, chest, et cetera. In some cases, lymph nodes, too, will be examined to see if the tumor has spread. This helps determine what stage the cancer has advanced to if it is indeed present.

Treating squamous cell carcinoma in cats

The most obvious and best choice for treating squamous cell carcinoma in cats is to remove the tumor, but this might not be entirely possible because of the location of the tumor or its size. If complete removal is not possible through simple surgical procedures, cryotherapy, in which the cancer lesion is “frozen,” can facilitate removal. Other treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy or photodynamic therapy are also treatments that can kill cancer cells.

What’s the prognosis if a cat has been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma?

Prognosis is dependent on several things. The stage of the tumor and whether or not it has spread, how aggressive its growth is, where it’s located, and whether it can be removed completely through surgery, are all things that impact prognosis. If a squamous cell carcinoma can be removed entirely, this improves prognosis significantly. As with every Cat Cancer, finding and removing squamous cell carcinoma tumors as early as possible can mean a much better prognosis and even complete cure.

Read also: Cat Kidney Disease
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Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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