Skin Cancer in Cats

Skin cancer in cats has a high frequency rate in mature and elderly felines and may be due to sun or other environmental factors. Cats with white skin or hairless cats are more prone to skin cancer due to their sensitivity to sun.

If detected in time, skin cancer can be stopped from spreading to internal organs and may be a manageable condition.

Types of Skin Cancer

There are multiple types of feline skin cancer:

  • Basal cell carcinoma is typically positioned on the head, back or chest area; you may notice a few small bumps and the cancer will not spread in the rest of the body. In some cases, these tumors are benign, so the bumps may be removed with surgery.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma may occur on eyelids, nose, mouth, tongue or ears. This type of carcinoma extends to the lungs or lymph nodes.
  • Mast cell tumors are common on the legs, testicles or abdomen. These carcinomas are small and are often mistaken for dead skin cells.
  • Melanomas are brown spots that occur on the surface of the cat's skin. These may be moles than can turn into benign tumors. If you notice a change in the size or shape of moles, consult your vet.

Causes of Skin Cancer

Some possible causes of skin cancer include sun, smoke, chemicals, canned food or flea collars.

Symptoms of Cat Skin Cancer

Skin cancer may display a range of symptoms such as:

  • Tumors, lumps or bumps on the skin
  • Skin redness
  • Swelling
  • Itchiness
  • Hair loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Long healing time for lesions and wounds
  • Lethargy

Diagnosing Skin Cancer in Cats

As the skin cancer symptoms resemble the symptoms of other common skin infections or parasites, a proper diagnosis is needed.

Skin cancer may be diagnosed with blood tests, the examination of the cells extracted from the tumor and biopsy.

X-rays may be needed to establish if the cancer has spread to the lungs.

Once the vet establishes the type of cancer, he will be able to recommend a suitable treatment.

Skin Cancer Treatment

Most of the times, the treatment will consist of surgery. The vet must make sure the cancer is not spread to the lungs or lymph nodes. The tumor and a part of the surrounding skin cells are removed.

Chemotherapy is recommended for tumors that cannot be removed or when the cancer has spread in the body.

Skin Cancer Prevention

You may prevent skin cancer by reducing your cat's exposure to sun, chemicals and smoke, and by giving him healthy food.

You may also keep an eye on your cat's skin to detect any abnormal lumps that may be cancerous. Take a look in the areas that are less visible such as under the tail or in the cat's mouth or eyelids.

When grooming your cat, gently palpate his skin and see if you notice any swellings, scaly skin or changes in color. If a mole changes color, size and shape, this may be a cause for concern.

If detected in a timely manner, most tumors may be removed.