Any pet parent should be aware of what to look out for when it comes to their pet’s health.
Some of the most common things to check for, for example, are ticks, fleas, or rabies. Regular trips to the vet can be enough to prevent and counter these diseases. But did you know that cancer is also considered a common disease in cats?
On top of that, it is also one of the leading causes of death in both dogs and cats. According to the Animal Cancer Foundation (ACF), one in five cats develop cancer. That’s a huge number.
Fortunately, the chances of survival are also high due to the many available treatments, and they can still live normally with proper therapy and/or medicines.
We all know that early detection is key. The most common symptoms of cancer you should look out for are lumps or bumps, drastic behavioral change, unexplained bleeding, and chronic weight loss. Immediately call your vet if you notice these symptoms.
Here are the most common types of cancer found in cats:
Lymphoma in Cats
The most common cancer seen in cats. According to ACF, lymphoma accounts for one-third of all malignancies in cats and occurs in various primary anatomic sites, such as the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, chest cavity, and spleen.
The top cause of this cancer is the feline leukemia virus (FeLV), but the incidence of FeLV has been dramatically reduced with the development of certain vaccines, ACF claims. Symptoms include chronic weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.
This type of blood cancer is one of the most treatable cancers. Chemotherapy is said to be the most effective method to treat lymphoma in cats.
Fibrosarcomas in Cats
Fibrosarcoma is a cancer of the soft tissue. The most obvious symptom of this tumor is the presence of a firm lump that feels attached to the tissue under the skin. Also known as Vaccine-associated fibrosarcomas (VAS), they are known to be aggressive tumors that develop at previous vaccination sites, hence the name. According to ACF, the time it takes for the tumors to develop after a vaccine can range from 4 months up to 10 years.
Another type of fibrosarcoma is the oral kind, and this is known to be one of the most common tumors in cats. Tumors of this kind are also known to be aggressive, as they attack adjacent tissues that can break open and bleed. Oral fibrosarcomas can also result in tooth loss and the inability to eat.
In order to lower the chances of this cancer developing, vets limit the frequency of vaccinations and carefully consider which vaccines to use. Treatment for this cancer is surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. However, vets claim that even with aggressive surgery, the chance of it returning is possible. In more severe cases, amputation is the best option to completely remove the tumor.
Mammary Gland Tumors in Cats
This is the third most common cancer found in cats. These tumors are typically malignant, meaning that they have a high chance of spreading out to other parts of the body.
This cancer typically develops among middle-aged to older cats. The most common symptoms of this tumor are the swelling of the mammary glands and the presence of a lump underneath the skin of the cat’s abdomen, along its mammary chain.
Treatment for this cancer is speedy surgical removal. If a larger tumor develops, surgery with chemotherapy is recommended.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats
There are also various types of squamous cell carcinoma in cats. This is a type of skin cancer that typically develops on a cat’s mouth or body. This is also known as the most common oral cancer in cats. Like fibrosarcomas, tumors of this kind can be extremely invasive.
Though it’s not clear what causes this cancer, according to VCA animal hospitals, light-colored cats are more likely to get these tumors. “Tumors may appear as a shallow or deep sore (ulceration), a raised, reddened area, or a cauliflower-like growth,” VCA wrote. Symptoms of oral SCC include drooling, bad breath, bleeding, and eating difficulties.
Unfortunately, oral SCC is difficult to remove if not diagnosed early. In more extreme cases, parts of the jaw may need to be removed to stop the tumors from spreading. Treatments for SCC are surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.