Skin Cancer in Cats
The skin is the largest organ in our bodies. Its function is to protect us from injury, heat, sunlight, and infections. This organ is composed of three layers: the outermost layer (epidermis), the second layer (dermis), and the third layer of deep subcutaneous tissue. The same functional purpose of this organ applies in Cats as in other animals.
The epidermis consists of scale-like cells called squamous epithelium, basal cells, and melanocytes. When skin cancer is present, subtle changes will emerge, eventually escalating to more life-threatening scenarios. As with human skin cancer, early recognition is an essential part of your cat’s prognosis.
Most people find it difficult to believe when they hear that their cat has skin cancer, for they were not aware that pets could get it as well. This type of cancer is more commonly found in cats with shorter and thinner coats, for they have more exposure to the sun.
Carcinoma is generally referred to as malignant and invasive cancer, so it is crucial to have this form diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas are known to advance quickly into tumors and resist healing with time. In both forms of cancer, they can metastasize (spread) to other organs.
Skin cancer on your cat may appear as a white plaque or heightened bump on the skin, often this mass will ulcerate and bleed. There are certain types of skin cancers which have different types of masses and treatments.
- Ulcers – If you notice a crusty bleeding sore on the skin of your cat which does not resolve with antibiotics or creams, he may be suffering from a form of skin cancer.
- Bowen’s Disease – Skin that develops an ulcer in the center, has hair falling out from the sore, and has as many as 30 sores could indicate Bowen’s disease.
- Tumors or Growths – You will be able to notice these large white-colored growths. They are characteristically known to be in areas where hair is white and skin is light in color.
It is crucial for the health of your cat that you bring him/her to our Animal Hospital immediately if you notice abnormal growths on the skin. A Physical Examination will be initiated, allowing for your vet to pay close attention to any growths or sores on your cat’s skin. Lymph nodes on your cat will be palpated to determine irregularity or swelling – an indication that the body is fighting a disease. After examination, your veterinarian will develop a treatment plan for your cat.