Feline Mammary Tumor Treatment

A mammary tumor is the third most common type of tumor to occur in cats. Early detection and treatment are keys to helping a cat overcome this disease the best she can.

Feline Mammary Tumors

It's estimated that 90% of mammary tumors in cats are malignant and have the potential to spread to other parts of the body rapidly. This type of cancer is often seen in cats that are around the age of 10. Cats that were not spayed before the age of 1 are two times more likely to develop a mammary tumor. Siamese cats tend to have mammary tumors more than any other breed of cats. Obesity in cats is also thought to be a factor that can make a cat more at risk to developing this type of cancer.

If not detected or treated early, a mammary tumor can quickly spread to a cat's lymph nodes and lungs. The prognosis of feline mammary tumors is dependent upon the stage of cancer, the size of the tumors and the amount of surgery needed.

Feline Mammary Tumor Treatments

It isn't recommended that all mammary tumors in a cat be treated the same way, because each tumor may be composed differently or have a different form of cancer.

The most effective treatment to eliminate a mammary tumor in a cat is surgery. If the tumor is benign, surgery will cure the condition. If the tumor is cancerous, surgery may need to be followed with chemotherapy, radiation or immunotherapy.

A veterinary oncologist will often recommend a "radical mastectomy" to remove feline mammary tumors. This surgery will remove all of a cat's mammary glands on the side affected. The lymph nodes located in the axillary and inguinal areas will also be removed. If malignant tumors are found on both the right and left mammary glands, each side will have a mastectomy performed in as little as 10 days apart.

After surgery, a pet owner will find the cat to have an incision that extends from a cat's armpit to her vulva. Drains may be placed for a few days after surgery to help prevent the accumulation of fluid. A cat will also have bandages placed that are removed within a few days. The vet may place an Elizabethan collar around the cat's neck so she doesn't chew or lick her sutures.

There may be times when surgery isn't possible because the tumor is too big to remove without damaging other parts of the cat's body. Therefore, a cat will undergo chemotherapy to shrink the cancerous growths so they can be safely removed. When the feline mammary tumors are found too late, or they are too difficult or too expensive to treat, it may be recommended that a cat be placed on comfort care. This will to help control the symptoms associated with the illness and help improve the cat's quality of life until she passes.

The prognosis of a feline with mammary tumors is often poor because the cancer isn't found until it's in the later stages, when it has already spread to the lungs or other organs.