Skin Tumors in Cats

The continuous observation of the feline's skin is key to its early detection and treatment. The existence of a skin tumor doesn’t mean that the cat is bound to die, as advances in veterinary medicine guarantee a dignified level of well-being.
Skin Tumors in Cats

Last update: 18 December, 2020

Melanoma is the best known and most worrying type of skin cancer in the context of veterinary medicine. There are several types of skin tumors in cats that can affect our felines. Below, we present the most common types of skin tumors in domestic cats, along with their possible causes and treatments.

Types of skin tumors in cats

1. Basal cell carcinoma

Basal carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer among felines. As they grow, these skin tumors form small nodules under the animal’s skin. Generally, these abnormal masses show up on the chest, back, and top of the head.

Therefore, it’s highly recommended to periodically check the entire body of our kitty, and pay special attention to the mentioned areas. In addition, we must take it to the vet immediately if we feel or observe any unusual lump or growth on its skin.

Usually, the vet will take a small sample and send it for a biopsy. Depending on the progress of the carcinoma and the animal’s general health, oncological treatments or surgical intervention may be necessary. However, basal cell carcinomas with metastasis are rare.

Currently, it’s estimated that Oriental Siamese cats and long-haired cat breeds show a greater predisposition for basal cell carcinoma. However, any cat, whether mixed or purebred, can develop skin tumors.

German rex long-haired cat: traits.

2. Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell skin tumors form flat, hard, grayish ulcers that are similar in shape to a cauliflower. These formations appear in areas that contain orifices, such as mouth, ears and nose. They can also appear on body areas exposed to frequent irritation, for example, around the eyes.

This type of carcinoma progresses rapidly and aggressively, so it requires early diagnosis and immediate attention. For this reason, we remind you again of the importance of being aware, in this case, of any alteration in your kitten’s skin.

In addition to the above, it’s crucial to prevent excessive exposure to solar radiation, as this is the main cause of squamous cell carcinoma.

3. Melanoma

Melanoma is the best known and most dangerous skin cancer in cats, but, fortunately, it’s also the least common. These skin tumors can develop in all areas of the body, even inside the mouth. They usually cause the expansion of pigmented areas, which can also bleed or bulge.

Carcinomas are very aggressive and require a quick diagnosis to allow a more favorable prognosis for the animal. Treatment usually consists of removing the pigmented region to prevent the melanoma from spreading.

Any cat, regardless of its breed, size or sex, can develop melanoma. However, the elderly felines, and those with white ears and head, are more vulnerable to this type of cancer.

Older cats can develop skin cancer, too.

4. Mastocinoma

Mast cell tumors appear as small nodules, rarely exceeding one inch. They’re more common in cats with neoplasms in the hind legs, scrotum, or abdomen.

There’s a moderate risk of metastasis and the possibility of rapid spread to other organs of the body. In more severe cases, they can affect the animal’s spleen, causing swelling, severe pain and vomiting. Therefore, early diagnosis is necessary in order to allow for efficient treatment.

Causes of skin tumors in cats

Benign or malignant tumors in cats can have different causes. Generally, we associate skin cancer with excessive exposure to sunlight. In fact, this is one of the main causes of most skin tumors, even if there are other risk factors and genetic predispositions that may play a determining role.

These are the main causes of neoplasms and skin tumors in cats:

  • Exposure to chemicals or carcinogens
  • Viral infections, such as AIDS and leukemia
  • Tumors and neoplasms in other organs or regions of the body
  • Obesity and associated diseases (e.g. diabetes)

Treatment of skin tumors in cats

It’s important to demystify the word “cancer”. Even though no owner wants to receive a negative diagnosis for his or her cat, we must understand that a tumor isn’t a death sentence. Fortunately, advances in veterinary medicine have allowed for better prognoses and a dignified quality of life for cats affected by skin tumors.

As for malignant tumors, the treatment will essentially depend on the evolution of the animal’s health animal. Generally, malignant tumors require oncological treatment such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and cryotherapy. Benign tumors usually don’t require treatment or can be removed by surgery.

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