Feline Oral Cancer

Feline oral cancer is an extremely rare form of cancer in cats and affects just three percent of the entire cat population. While it is not extremely common, it is still a risk factor for all cats because oral hygiene is the one aspect of a cat's healthcare that is most neglected. Oral cancer is very dangerous as it can often penetrate to the bone and not only cause massive destruction there, but also spread from the bone to other parts of the body.

Feline Symptoms

Perhaps one of the most unfortunate aspects of oral cancer is that the symptoms do not usually become visible until the cancer has progressed to an extremely severe stage. Once the cancer has progressed, the following symptoms can typically be noticed:

  • Lump or growth in the mouth or jaw
  • Difficulty eating, pain during eating and decreased appetite
  • Swelling of the face and nose
  • Excessive drooling
  • Bad smelling breath

In addition to these symptoms, most cat owners will notice that their cat is sleeping more often than normal and is not interested in playing or taking part in his normal activities. This usually occurs because the body losses an extreme amount of energy as every cell in the body stays focused on fighting the cancer.

Diagnostic Testing

There are several diagnostic tests that are commonly used in conjunction to get an accurate picture of feline oral cancer. Initially, a complete physical examination and blood testing will be performed. The first clue that will often prompt further testing is the presence of a tumor during physical examination.

The next step will be to biopsy the tumor to determine if the tumor is in fact cancerous. If the results of the biopsy show that the tumor is cancerous, a complete chest x-ray may be done to make sure that the cancer has not spread and to determine the best method of treatment. Additionally, a CT scan may be done to make sure that the cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes or nearby cells.

After the biopsy has been completed, the next step will be to test the tissue received from the biopsy against a chemo assay. A chemo assay is a test that is used to compare the tissue against effective chemotherapy treatments in order to decide which chemotherapy treatment options will be effective at killing the cancer.

Treating Oral Cancer

Treatment of feline oral cancer will typically depend upon whether the cancer has spread to other areas of the body and at what stage the cancer is in. In most cases, chemotherapy will be attempted once the chemo assay test determines what type of chemotherapy medications will be effective at treating the cancer. Radiation may also be done in combination with chemotherapy in order to try to reduce the size of the cancerous tumor and aid in the efficacy of chemotherapy.

Surgery is most effective when the cancer is caught early enough and has not spread, which makes the surgical removal of such tumors much easier. If the cancer has spread, chances are that chemotherapy and radiation will be attempted first in order to try to isolate the cancer. If chemotherapy and radiation are successful and followed up by surgery, the prognosis is usually very good.