Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats
In this pet care video, learn more about Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Cats (Feline Oral SCC). In this video we meet with Dr. Mona Rosenberg who is board certified in veterinary oncology. She'll discuss Feline Oral SCC: testing & diagnosis, therapies & treatment.
Dr. Mike: Hello! I’m Dr. Mike. Today we are going to talk about Oral
Squamous Cell Carcinoma in cats. This is a cancer that is very
serious and early detection is critical. To learn more about this type
of cancer we are going to meet with Dr. Mona Rosenberg who is
board certified in veterinary oncology.
Dr. Mona Rosenberg: A very common form of oral cancer in cats is called Squamous
Cell Carcinoma. Squamous cells are the cells that line our skin and
our oral cavity and unfortunately, in cats—dogs too but in cats it’s
much more commonly. One of those normal skin cells or oral
lining cells actually has the ability to become cancerous. We really
are not sure why cats develop this particular form of cancer so
commonly. But some of the thoughts include the fact that when
you look at the behavior of cats with how fastidious they are with
licking themselves and cleaning themselves all the time, that their
oral cavity becomes exposed to foreign objects on an on going
We know that cancer can be caused by chronic inflammatory
processes. So if the mouth of the cat is always being exposed to
these external foreign objects that can setup a genetic mutation
within the normal oral cell and that cell can become cancerous.
Typically, these cancers can occur anywhere within the mouth.
You can see them on the upper jaw, the lower jaw or even
associated with the tongue, in particular underneath the tongue.
The most common presenting signs of a cat with Oral Squamous
Cell Carcinoma is drooling, weight loss, loss of appetite and
sometimes even a little bit of blood tinch in the water bowl or in
And the reason that this occurs is because the cat start to develop
difficulty in eating. Their tongues don’t work as well as they
should so instead of being able to swallow their saliva it tends to
drip out. The other sign that we can sometimes see is bad breath or
halitosis and that is because the tumor itself can become infected
with all of the bacteria that occur within the mouth. So should you
notice any of these sign such as bad breath, drooling or decreased
appetite, please take your cat right away to your family
veterinarian to be checked out.
This cancer like many other cancers that we are aware of, with
early detection we have a much better chance of providing good
quality of life to your pet. If your family veterinarian finds a mass
in the mouth of your cat, the first thing he or she will likely do is
get some blood work in the urinalysis to make sure that your pet is
healthy. Additionally, chest X-rays and perhaps even an aspiration
of the draining lymph node is warranted to make sure the cancer
cells has not spread. Then your veterinarian will put your cat under
anesthesia to get a surgical biopsy and possibly some dental X-rays
in order to determine how invasive the tumor may be. Only with
biopsy can we determine whether or not your pet has cancer and
the type of cancer.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, likely a CATscan of the mass in
the mouth will be performed in order to identify whether a wide
surgical excision is possible for your cat. If it is, then a surgeon
will likely go in and remove as much of that tumor and normal to
surrounding it coz if we can achieve complete surgical margins
then likely the cancer is not going to come back. If we find that
your cat is not a good surgical candidate then we found that
radiation therapy is very effective at controlling the disease. Either
shrinking it so that we have improve quality of life or in some
cases actually making the tumor go away completely.
Your oncologist may also decide to use chemotherapy as a
radiation sensitizer. Sometimes chemotherapy in low doses will
actually increase the sensitivity of cancer cells to the effects of
radiation, making the radiation much more successful.
Chemotherapy in cats, as well as radiation has very few side
effects and in fact ninety five percent of the cats that we treat with
chemotherapy actually have no side effects whatsoever. The major
reason for that is that cats don’t know they have cancer and so they
don’t psychologically have the same baggage that a person would
have if they were undergoing the same sort of treatment. Our goal
is always about quality of life.
Dr. Mike Dr. Rosenberg gave us an excellent overview of Oral Squamous
Cell Carcinoma in cats. If you think you notice a tumor in your
cat’s mouth or under the tongue, you should bring it to the
attention of your veterinarian immediately. If found early, surgery,
radiation and or chemotherapy may actually provide cure for the
cancer. If the cure is not possible additional therapy may include
antibiotics and pain medicine to help provide the best quality of
life possible for your pet.
I’m Dr. Mike I hope that this information is helpful and thanks for
Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats
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