Squamous cell carcinoma in cats, contrary to some misconception, is fairly common.
If it is caught and treated very early, it is by no means a death sentence for your cat.
However, if they are not caught and continue to grow, they can be extremely dangerous.
These tumors can affect several parts of your cat’s body, but they are much more common in and around their head and neck areas.
Unlike other similar types of tumors that can affect your cat, there are three very different and distinctive types.
The three types include oral squamous cell carcinoma in cats, solar induced, and what is referred to as Bowen's disease.
Although they are definitely related, all three will show very different characteristics.
They will also show different symptoms, and as such, they will all have slightly different forms of treatments.
The first type of squamous cell carcinoma in cats is the oral form, and this is considered the most common of the three types.
It most commonly will affect your cat’s lips, around or inside of their mouth, or under the tongue.
However, in some cases, it can also affect your cat tonsils, in which case it will be both very hard to identify and extremely dangerous to your cat.
The oral form of these potentially very dangerous tumors is most common in cats that are ten years old or older.
Although the exact cause is not fully documented, the medical community agrees it has one other very common denominator; second hand smoke.
The reported cases of this type of tumor is much more common in households where there is a smoker, and if there are multiple smokers, the risk is very high.
As your cat ages they are at a much higher degree of risk than cats that live in a some free environment.
This type of squamous cell carcinoma in cats will show you some very distinctive symptoms, and if you learn to understand and watch for them, your chances of catching the tumors early are very good.
This type is referred to the oral form as it causes lesions to develop either in or around your cat’s mouth. If the lesions do develop, they will generally ulcerate.
A lesion is a growth of your cat’s skin or their mucus membranes that is accompanied by pus, and when they ulcerate, this pus will drain and be very easy to identify.
However, this may not be the first symptom that you will see.
Instead, the first sign that your cat has these tumors may appear in the motion of their mouth.
As they are developing and growing, your cat will begin to chew their food a lot differently, as you will see them chewing in frequent or accelerated motions.
Once this occurs, your cat will also start to drool and develop very bad breath.
No one knows and understands your cat any better than you do, and when you see these symptoms, even without the lesions; it is a real warning sign.
The treatment for oral squamous cell carcinoma in cats will be to surgically remove the tumors as well as the surrounding tissue.
If the surrounding tissues are not removed, the chances are very high that these tumors could return.
With this form it is critical that you catch it as early as you can as it can be very invasive and could very easily result in portions of your cat’s jaw being removed.
However, surgery alone is usually not totally effective, as they may also have to be treated with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Once removed, your cat will need nutritional assistance in the form of supplements if portions of their jaw are removed, as well as pain medications for several months.
The next type of squamous cell carcinoma in cats is solar induced, and will can very easily affect more than one location of your cats body.
It almost exclusively affects your cat’s nose, their ears, lips, as well as their eyelids, and can surface in two or more locations at the same time.
Because it is caused by exposure to solar rays, the cats that are the most affected are those that spend a lot of time outdoors.
White cats or cats with very light skin and hair are also more commonly affected.
However, there is one other risk factor; blue eyes.
Although the medical community is still unsure of the reason why, there is a lot of evidence that blue eyed cats are at a much higher degree of risk.
It also seems to affect cats that are three years old or younger.
The symptoms with this type of squamous cell carcinoma in cats will be very slow growing lesions that are easy to spot if you examine your cat regularly.
These lesions will appear on your cat’s nose, their face, as well as their eyelids. However, there have also been reported cases where they appear on the toes.
As the lesions start to appear, they may develop with or without scabs, or they may also appear as nodules.
If they do appear as nodules, you may think your cat has a wart.
However, this is not a wart as it is much more dangerous. The treatments for solar induced squamous cell carcinoma will also be surgical removal as well as removing the surrounding tissue.
However, there is a newer treatment that is referred to as cryosurgery that has been very successful, as this treatment basically freezes the tumor.
In some cases, chemotherapeutic drugs may be injected into the lesions.
This type can also reoccur, but once your cat has had it and been treated, you will understand how to protect them.
Limiting their exposure to sunlight or placing a waterproof sun block such as SPF 15 or higher on their nose and ear areas, will dramatically reduce the chances of re-occurrence
The final type of squamous cell carcinoma in cats is referred to as Bowen’s disease, and is not anywhere near as common as the first two types.
With this form, there is a growing consensus in the medical community that it only affects cats with a compromised or immunosuppressed system.
The symptoms are almost exactly the opposite of the sun induced type, as it will affect the pigmented areas of your cats body that do not receive direct exposure to sunlight.
However, it does have one common element; it will affect multiple areas of your cat’s body. It will generally affect their neck, several areas of their main body, as well as their legs.
Lesions are the main symptoms, but these will be slightly different in that they may develop and then very suddenly go away, only to reappear again in a few weeks.
If the lesions do not go away, they can become very invasive and extremely dangerous.
The preferred method of treatment is also by surgery as well as a 5% cream solution of Aldara, which is an immune response modifier that has been very effective in several cases.
Squamous cell carcinoma in cats can be extremely dangerous if they are not caught early.
These dangerous tumors are much more common than a lot of owners realize, and the key is to catch them early and have them treated as quickly as possible.
If you do, your cat has an excellent chance of surviving this onslaught.