Jaw Cancer in Cats

Cancer in cats occurs in different areas of the body and may include certain organs, lymph nodes and bones. Cats suffering from oral tumors often develop jaw cancer or cancer in the oral cavity. The two most common types of oral cancers that occur in cats include squamous cell carcinomas and fibrosarcomas. Although squamous cell carcinomas don't spread rapidly to other parts of the body, oral tumors may be locally invasive and spread to the chest.

Types of Feline Oral Cancer

Cats are less susceptible to oral cancer in comparison to dogs and most pets develop oral tumors in the mouth or pharynx. Some pets may also suffer from visible growths inside the oral cavity or on the palette. Cats suffering from tumors or growths large enough to interfere with ingestion of food and water require prompt surgical treatment. Sick pets suffering from oral cancer exhibit symptoms according to the severity of cancer present.

Symptoms of Feline Oral Cancer Include:

  • Halitosis
  • Oral bleeding
  • Swelling of the mouth or face
  • Inability to swallow food
  • Inability to groom themselves
  • Pain and discomfort in the oral cavity

Jaw Cancer

Fibrosarcoma and squamous cell carcinomas can both develop in the jaw. Oral tumors that are set in the jaw bones may not spread to other parts of the body. However, in certain cases the cancer can lead to severe bone invasion. In order to determine the severity of cancer development in the mouth, the vet will perform several diagnostic tests that confirm the type and grade of cancer present.

Diagnosis of Feline Jaw Cancer

The vet will perform a physical examination of the oral cavity to detect abnormalities, growths and facial swelling. The cat may require sedation to prevent pain during the diagnosis. MRI tests and x-rays are used to detect the presence of tumors. Once tumors are confirmed in the mouth or pharynx, the vet will perform other diagnostic tests to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the chest. Full thickness biopsies are preferred over fine needle aspirate test to diagnose malignant tissues or growth. A full thickness biopsy provides a larger sample of tissues or cells for laboratory analysis. Biopsies reveal the treatment options available to slow disease progression and reduce discomfort.

Treatment of Feline Oral Cancer

Most forms of oral cancer are treated with surgical extraction of malignant mass and bone. The pet will also require chemotherapy medication and radiation therapy to completely destroy cancer cells. The treatment protocol for chemotherapy varies according to the severity of cancer. Most chemotherapy treatments are administered for a few weeks with periodic breaks from medication.

Tips for Pet Owners

Pet owners have to commit both time and money to keep cats comfortable during treatment. Although cats respond favorably to chemotherapy, they exhibit few side effects. The cat will also require supportive care after surgery and frequent vet checks to determine response to treatment. Pet owners should inform the vet if the cat exhibits unusual symptoms during the course of treatment.

Although tumors can be completely eliminated in some pets, the response to treatment depends on the severity of cancer and underlying health concerns present.