What Is a Tumor?
A tumor is an abnormal development that occurs on the cat’s body. An aberrant cell growth that has begun to reproduce is referred to as tumor growth. Not every tumor is harmful or a source of concern for the health of the patient. When a tumor is discovered on your pet, it is usually recommended that a veterinary specialist check the growth. A vet-doc will be able to perform a biopsy and removal of the tumor in order to identify the tumor correctly and to begin treatment immediately.
Benign tumors (cancers) are those that do not spread to other regions of the body and do not infiltrate the surrounding tissues; these are the types of tumors that are not harmful to the patient. The majority of pet tumors are just benign lumps that may be surgically removed without causing harm.
The word “cancer,” on the other hand, is often used to designate “malignant” tumors, which can infiltrate surrounding normal healthy tissue and migrate to other parts of the body (a process known as “metastasis”), typically spreading through the bloodstream or lymphatic system, respectively.
Malignant tumors (cancers) are typically more dangerous than benign tumors because they are more aggressive and invasive. They frequently cause more significant and widespread illness than benign tumors, and they are also generally more challenging to treat.
In general, cats suffer from neoplasia at a lower rate than dogs. When comparing cats and dogs, neoplasms may be observed fewer than half as frequently in cats. When tumors do occur in cats, they are considerably more likely to be malignant (3-4 times more probable than in dogs), and, as a result, they are much more likely to cause significant illness than they are in dogs.
What are the clinical signs of cancer?
Because malignant tumors can affect any tissues in the body, clinical indications in cats are highly diverse. There are no symptoms that indicate that cancer is the cause of the disease.
In general, malignant tumors affect older cats at a higher rate than cancers strike younger cats. Cancer progression is often slow and gradual, with only vague indications of sickness such as poor appetite, fatigue, and weight loss appearing at the beginning of the disease’s progression. Occasionally, more visible indications may occur, such as chronic lumps in or beneath the skin, changes in the eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, unexplained bleeding, or wounds that refuse to heal.
As the illness develops, new problems are likely to arise, most of which will be related to the tissues or organs that have been primarily impacted. The fact remains that while cancer is a possibility in some cases (particularly in older cats), it is essential to remember that many other diseases commonly cause the same signs as cancer and that, even if cancer is diagnosed, there may be treatment options available that will allow control or management of the disease, at least for a period of time. Nonetheless, because it is critical to detect cancer in its early stages, it is essential to seek veterinarian guidance when any abnormalities are discovered in your pet.
What is the procedure for diagnosing cancer?
The clinical indications your cat is exhibiting may lead you or your veterinarian to consider cancer as the underlying cause of the symptoms. The clinical signs and examination performed by your veterinarian on their own are insufficient to make a diagnosis of this disease.
Additional investigations, such as radiography (X-rays) or ultrasound examination, are sometimes required to determine the location and size of a tumor; nevertheless, a cancer diagnosis can only be made by microscopic inspection of tissues by a pathologist with extensive experience. In most cases, your vet-doc will perform a biopsy (the surgical removal of a small piece of affected tissue), though in some cases, it may be possible to make a diagnosis using a ‘fine needle aspirate’ (in which a small needle is inserted into a mass to remove or ‘suck out’ a few cells that can be smeared on a slide for examination) or a ‘needle biopsy’ (in which a larger needle is inserted into a lump to remove
Other procedures are also employed to collect samples of the suspected aberrant cells to diagnose in some cases. It is standard practice to get blood samples from any suspected cancer patient, partly to identify any detrimental effects of the malignancy and partially to detect the existence of any other diseases. Blood samples are obtained from all suspected cancer patients regularly.
Occasionally, more advanced procedures may be necessary to determine (or confirm) a cancer diagnosis or to design the most effective therapy for a particular malignancy. Pets are increasingly being offered computed axial tomography (often known as “CAT” or “CT” scans) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, both of which may be quite beneficial, particularly in the identification and assessment of brain tumors and the degree of tumor invasion.
Treatment of cancer in cats
When you hear that your cat has cancer, it is usually a difficult situation to deal with.
In many cases, there are emotions of confusion and even guilt (‘how could I have avoided this?’), and it will inevitably take time to come to grips with the condition. Although the underlying cause of most tumors is currently unclear, therapy for many (though not all) of these tumors may be available that may significantly enhance both the quality and duration of the cat’s life.
While receiving a cancer diagnosis is never a pleasant surprise, it does not always imply that the cat is doomed. There are several therapeutic options available, much as there are in human medicine, however not all cancers react well to treatment, and some tumors may be exceedingly difficult to manage. The cat’s quality of life and possible suffering must always take precedence over all other considerations; it is thus recommended to examine the many alternatives available with your veterinarian before making a final decision.
Many factors will influence the decision on whether or not to treat and the type of treatment used. Some types of therapy are only offered at specialized facilities, and your veterinarian may recommend that you be referred to one of these facilities by your doctor.
In many situations, proper cancer therapy can result in a substantial increase in the overall quality of life for cats who have been diagnosed with the disease. On the other hand, treatments might have adverse effects, which your veterinarian will be aware of. Every treatment has the goal of improving quality of life rather than causing more suffering during the treatment. Even though favorable outcomes can be obtained for some tumors, treating a cat is not always suitable, and you should explore your options carefully with your veterinarian.
Staging the patient
Your veterinarian will want to perform a cancer staging procedure on your cat before beginning any cancer therapy. This is the word used to describe the process of determining how far a tumor has progressed and whether or not any problems have occurred. For example, taking X-rays (or doing an ultrasound) to see if the tumor has progressed (for example, to the lungs or liver), collecting samples (biopsies or aspirates) from local lymph nodes, and examining blood samples are all standard procedures in staging a tumor.
The quality of life for the cancer-stricken cat
When it comes to cancer treatment, everyone engaged must have the same objectives in mind. The goal of veterinary surgeons is to improve the quality of life of cancer patients while avoiding the occurrence of any unacceptably harmful side effects from cancer therapy. This will often result in longer life, but it is essential to minimize excessive suffering and agony. It is beneficial to have spoken with your veterinarian in advance about the criteria you will use to determine the quality of life of your pet. There will undoubtedly come a time when you must contemplate euthanasia in order to prevent excessive suffering in your pet. This may be a tough and upsetting moment, and the support and assistance of your veterinarian, as well as friends and family, can be pretty beneficial during this time.
Treatment options for cancer in cats
Specific therapies are generally available in general practice, while others are only offered at specialized facilities or hospitals. A specialist with specialized expertise and a wider choice of treatment options may occasionally be recommended by your vet-doc, depending on the type of tumor that has been discovered in your feline patient. There are three major types of cancer treatment available:
Which therapy is utilized (or given) for each particular cat will be determined by a variety of circumstances, including:
- The type of cancer that has been diagnosed
- The location of the tumor (where it is in the body)
- The presence of metastases on the body (distant spread of the tumour)
- What is appropriate for your cat
- What is available/accessible to you
Consult your veterinarian if you have any reservations or questions about the procedure.
What Should I Expect in Surgery?
The anesthetic will be administered to your pet throughout the operation, just as it would be during a surgical treatment. Following your operation, your veterinarian will provide you with aftercare instructions and prescriptions. Depending on the size of the tumor and the area from where it was removed, your pet may require pain medication or may be required to follow a limited exercise regimen for a period of time. Your veterinarian will send the mass to a laboratory for testing, which will help to confirm the diagnosis. If your cat or dog’s tumor is determined to be malignant, your veterinarian may recommend immunotherapy, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment to treat it. It is critical to collaborate with your veterinarian to develop a treatment plan tailored to your cat or dog’s specific needs.
Surgery for cancer patients
Surgery is the most frequent type of cancer treatment, and it is also the treatment that is most likely to result in a successful cure. However, it is not always feasible to completely remove the tumor by surgical means (due to the site of the tumor or its spread to other sites). The fact that an early diagnosis and treatment can significantly enhance the long-term prognosis is one of the causes for this phenomenon.
In addition to ‘curative surgery’ (in which a total removal of the tumor is attempted), surgery can be used to remove some (but not all) of the tumor to assist improve quality of life or to aid in the administration of other medications (such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy). To make the best decision for your feline companion, you should consult with your veterinarian about the risks and advantages of any operation that is being considered. You can also discuss with your veterinarian whether or not pain medication (analgesic therapy) can be administered during and after the surgery and what type of postoperative care would be necessary.
When cancer patients undergo surgical treatment, it is usual to remove normal tissue around the tumor along with the tumor itself. As a result, even though it may not be able to see or feel any abnormalities, even normal tissues around a tumor may contain aberrant cells that, if left untreated, might create long-term difficulties
The majority of tumors seen in cats are benign and may be removed with relative ease. Mast cell tumors, squamous cell carcinoma, brain cancer, and breast cancer in cats, on the other hand, might be a significant health concern. In the case of recurrent vomiting or diarrhea, mobility issues, or a bloated belly, your veterinarian should examine further.