We all hate cancer, but there is one cancer that I really hate the most, and this article is about that. We are talking about oral squamous cell carcinoma of cats. Let’s do it. Let’s analyze it. Let’s see why I hate this cancer so much. Oral squamous cell carcinoma, or SCC, is common cancer and is responsible for about 3 to 10% of cancers in cats, and the frustrating thing is that we don’t have many good treatment options, so the takeaway message for this, for me, if I Seeing a family with a cat with squamous cell carcinoma, we’re going to focus on comfort and nutritional support, and the problem with this cancer is that it’s very difficult to detect them early.
We do not regularly examine our pet, dog, or cat’s mouth, so it is very difficult to diagnose them early when they are the most treatable and highly invasive, in the underlying tissues, in the bones, the upper and lower bones, and if you read my article on melanoma, canine melanoma, a tumor emerging from the lower jaw is going to be more surgical, but the upper jaw, the upper jaw, is connected to the nose. bones and some of these tumors come from the tongue, so it’s very difficult to remove them surgically and they’re very invasive in the bone, so they’re a really frustrating cancer.
Every once in a while we find a cat with a small lesion, a small tumor, and they can do just fine, and if you google, do some research, or talk to an oncologist, we will occasionally have long-term survivors and I have had a few cats over the years. years that do very well with a rostral, that is, towards the front of the face, towards the nose. The mandibular, lower jaw, injury, I had a cat that we put stereotactic radiation on that lived for years, so there are occasional long-term survivors, and in the published literature and studies you can find some numbers that are a bit of a more optimistic, but again, I find this a very difficult tumor to treat because it is difficult to find them early, and many of the different treatment options that we will be talking about: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, don’t seem to really live up to extend kittens and improve their quality of life. So again this is why I tend to go for this palliative and comfortable treatment approach.
A question I am often asked is,
“What causes cancer?”
One of these is secondhand smoke, that is, kittens living at home with a smoker. The second is canned tuna, which is why cats that ate tuna were more likely to get it and wear a flea collar, so those are three things that have been linked to oral squamous cell carcinoma.
So what are the symptoms?
What would you see at home for a kitten with squamous cell carcinoma or a tumor in the mouth? These are usually middle-aged kittens, so they are between 10 and 12 years old, and the tricky part is that if they are in the back of the mouth it can be difficult to spot them, but some things What can you do? See, some kittens will have trouble eating or swallowing. They may not eat that much, so you know, we often say anorexia, so don’t eat, but sometimes not food is complete.
They just don’t eat that much or are picky eaters. You know, they don’t eat the same foods. They want to eat, but it is painful for them to eat and sometimes there is weight loss, and I have a full article on losing weight. Weight loss can be a major challenge for our own pets. They are fluffy. It can be difficult to notice. My own kitten has lost three pounds. You know, I am saying that it can be very difficult for our pets to know that they are losing weight, so weighing them regularly is a good thing. So I’m going to post that link about weight loss because it’s really important to read. Then they might drool. They can have a smelly, stinky mouth, right? You may notice blood, blood on your bedding, blood on your bed, you know, wherever they sleep, blood on the couch. You may notice blood in the water tank.
so it might bleed a little from the mouth and you might notice. Sometimes when it comes out of the upper jaw, their nose gets wet, so they get a runny nose and you think, “Well, they’ve got an upper respiratory infection in the mouth, and then some of these tumors will actually grow behind the eye. Then the eye can move. They would push it out or to the side, and that could be a tumor in the mouth at the back of the upper jaw, and you can tell, and sometimes your cat may yawn or open his cat. mouth, and you may notice anything abnormal in your mouth. Another way these cancers are commonly found is in dentistry or some other procedure, where a vet or their doctor intubates them and they notice the mass in the mouth or on a tooth there. They are teeth that are loose and you notice that there is something abnormal underneath.
In this article, I’m going to show you some pictures of some of my patients and some of my colleagues, and, you know, some of them are really big lesions, and they’re pretty advanced and, you know, some of them. , Oreo was small on the tongue. So they really vary but they can be pretty destructive when they start to take over parts of the cat’s face and stuff like that so I’m sorry if some of the images are a little over the top but then again I just want you to show the variety of their appearance. . So those are some of the things we’re going to look at. In terms of the tests we’ll do, normally to diagnose what it is, we’ll do a biopsy. We can suck them up. If you read any of my other articles you will know that I love aspirations. Sometimes the aspirates in here are not diagnostic because there is a lot of inflammation and things, so many times we have to do a biopsy to make a diagnosis, and your vet will tell you about the other job of, often, you know, we’re going to do blood tests for a general health exam.
This is cancer that generally does not spread early, so it remains local in the mouth. Sometimes it goes to these lymph nodes, the local lymph nodes. If it spreads to the chest it will usually be late in the course of the illness, so these kitties usually give way, and I know this is hard to hear, but what these kitties usually die from is of poor quality. life and pain management and nutritional support. Again, back to my goals as an oncologist in treating it: comfort, pain management, and nutritional support.
So there are some tests we can do. I’ve seen a few over the years and they were pretty advanced overall. I’m not saying a chest X-ray isn’t worth doing, but again, you know, we’ll talk to your doctor about what tests they want to do. You know, we want to diagnose it to find out which of the cancers it is, do a blood test, if everything is okay for the drugs that we have to prescribe. You can have one early.
You may be talking about, you know, a more aggressive treatment, but these are some of the tests you will discuss with your cancer specialist or vet. Remember I always have links below where you can find a cancer specialist. I also inquire through Fidu Vet. Your vet can consult me that way and view all your medical records. They are the links below. The best way to know how extensive these tumors are is a CT scan, a CT scan of your kitten, a CT scan of your cat, and that’s because, again, remember that these are tumors even if they of the coating type. Gums and they’re all very invasive to the bone so it’s the best way to see how extensive they are. CT scans, I’ll post another link below, but they need anesthesia and there is the extra cost compared to X-rays Problem with X-rays of the face, of the skull, they don’t help much.
Dental X-rays can sometimes be helpful, but to find out how extensive it is, a CT scan will be taken. If we’re only dealing with palliative care, I won’t be doing many CT scans for cats with oral scales. Usually the ones I’m doing CT scans are the ones we think we could do the treatment, so radiation, or if we find one early we could do surgery, but again it really depends wonder what our own are. goals, you know, with treatment for this case. So I’m going to finish the first part on oral squamous cell carcinoma of kittens with that, and I’m going to join the second part, where we’ll focus on treatment. Spoiler alert: we’ll focus on palliative treatment options. I’m going to talk to you about why I don’t really put an emphasis on surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, and my big emphasis is really on supportive or palliative options. We’ll talk about nutritional support, pain relief, and the like. Please join me in part two. Thank you very much for reading.