Mast Cell Tumors in Cats

Tumors in cats can be of several types. Mast cell tumors are common in cats and are lumps formed on the skin or underneath it, made up of mast cells. These tumors may be benign or malignant; the nature of the tumor is essential in the prognosis of the mast cell tumors. Benign tumors are harmless and should be left alone, while malignant tumors will require surgery or treatment and may also be fatal.

Canine Mast Cells Tumors

Mast cells tumors can grow on the skin or under it and can be felt as a lump or swelling when palpating the dog’s skin. These tumors may be located on any part of the dog’s body. The mast cells exist normally in the dog’s body and are produced by the immune system as a response to infections or an excess of toxins; the mast cells are made up of histamines, heparin and enzymes. When these cells are produced and not needed by the body, they gather in a tumor. The tumor may be benign, case in which it will cause no harm in the dog’s body and will not extend. If the tumor is malignant or cancerous, this will spread and may affect other organs; in the end, the tumor will reach the metastasis stage and get to the lungs and can cause death.

Diagnosing Tumors

Mast cell tumors can be of different shapes and sizes and can be found on any part of the dog’s body. The vet will need a biopsy to establish if the tumor is benign or malignant. The tumor may need to be classified further to find the most suitable treatment options. Mast cell tumors are graded according to how advanced they are:

  • Grade I tumors are benign can be small or larger. These tumors may be removed, but the surgery is only needed if the lump affects the dog’s functions or causes discomfort. Benign tumors won’t develop further.
  • Grade II tumors may be either malignant or benign. The vet will run additional tests.
  • Grade III tumors are malignant and are typically aggressive, spreading at a fast rate.

Canine Mast Cell Tumor Treatment

The treatment will be determined according to the grading of the dog’s mast cell tumor.

  • Grade I tumors may be removed without a problem, but in some cases the vet will leave the tumor untouched, as it will not grow and will not cause any problems for the dog. If the tumor is located on the dog’s limbs or presses against a vital internal organ, the vet will opt for surgery.
  • Grade II tumors may be performed and the cells will be removed. However, this is not a guaranty that the cells won’t grow back. The vet will also recommend chemotherapy if the tumor is suspected to be malignant.
  • Grade III tumors may be operated on, provided they have not spread to the rest of the body. These tumors are most likely to grow back. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy will also be prescribed to prolong the dog’s life.