Cancer is an abnormal proliferation of cells that can invade all kinds of tissues and organs such as the skin. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer presentation in felines.
Usually, appears on the ears, nose, lips and eyelids, less protected areas of skin, although tumors inside the mouth are also frequent. It is more common in senior cats, is related to sun exposure and is associated with white cats.
Causes of cancer in cats
In the vast majority of cancer cases the exact cause that causes it is unknown. Yes there are factors that can influence the appearance of a cancer:
- Genetics. There are breeds of cats with a greater genetic predisposition to suffer from cancer than others and at the individual level the same occurs.
- Feeding. Feeding is a very influential factor in animal health. Certain foods prevent cancer by its physical-chemical properties; Excess other foods, however, are associated with other types of cancer.
- Environmental factors. Pollution, tobacco smoke, sun exposure … Skin cancer in cats is associated with continued exposure to the sun. Like us humans, excessive sun exposure can cause skin lesions and cancer, especially in the most unprotected areas.
How is feline skin cancer detected?
Squamous cell carcinoma in cats Appears as pink lesions, allopecic areas and skin scabs which, at first, can be confused with wounds. As the disease worsens, the skin acquires a more reddish appearance and ulcerated areas with harder edges, such as scabs, may appear.
The ears, nose, lips and mouth are the most affected areas. Although the tumor spreads madly destroying the surrounding tissue, it can invade other areas of the body such as the inside of the oral cavity, the nodes and the lungs.
As usual, An early diagnosis is key to treating the disease; If you see these lesions, go to the veterinarian to confirm or discard the diagnosis. An examination and a biopsy – tissue sample – of the most affected areas are necessary to confirm the cancer.
The most advanced and precise radiography, as well as computerized tomography, are diagnostic tools that look for carcinogenic masses and their evolution, very useful when these masses are inside the oral cavity, something that occurs frequently in this type of Cancer.
Skin cancer treatments in felines
The success of the treatment depends on the severity of the disease. If the lesions are very minor, they can be treated, and even prevented, avoiding exposure in the hours of maximum solar radiation or applying a protection factor in the most vulnerable areas, although, in the case of cats, this task will probably not be easy.
If the lesions are severe and it is a squamous cell cancer, there are several possible treatments:
- Surgical removal of the tumor. The earlier this technique is performed, the better, since it will prevent the tumor from progressing to healthy skin areas. To do this, all cancerous tissue and a margin of healthy tissue around must be removed to prevent recurrences. If only the ears are affected, as is often the case, removal may be the best solution.
- Radiotherapy. Radiation therapy can be combined with the previous method to ensure that we completely eliminate the trace of cancer. This technique is usually more expensive and is only found in specialized veterinary centers.
- Chemotherapy. Drug treatment decreases the cancerous masses; The veterinarian will determine the duration of this to be successful.