Feline Squamous Cell Carcinoma
One of the most common cancers in older cats is called feline squamous cell carcinoma. It is believed to be caused by prolonged exposure to the sun, and usually affects cats that have lightly pigmented or un-pigmented skin, which is skin that has no coloring and is usually pinkish in color. It affects the skin, paws, mouth head and eyes, and occasionally the vital organs can be affected including the lungs and bladder.
While exposure to the sun is a major risk factor for this illness there are others, such as second hand cigarette smoke, flea collars and even canned food. Statistically speaking, if you smoke the risk that your dear puss will get this form of cancer are 4 times greater. If you give them canned tuna fish and other canned foods on a regular basis there is also a higher risk of this nasty disease.
There are a number of symptoms that are usually quite easy to spot if your cat has squamous cell carcinoma. One of these is a small, shallow sore on their face that has a sort of ‘crust’ on it and refuses to heal. Others include a deep, raw sore on the skin, hair loss, a sore foot with associated limp, and a nose sore with dripping and sneezing.
There are a number of treatment options available if you kitty is diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, and one of the most successful is surgery to remove the affected area. This isn’t always possible however depending on the location of the cancer, and then other treatments must be sought. These include radiation therapy, cryotherapy, chemotherapy and plesiotherapy. All of these treatments can be better explained by your veterinarian or oncologist.
One newer option is something called photodynamic therapy. This involves applying a new kind of medication to the affected area that photosensitizes the cancer cells and kills them. It involves the use of special equipment however and may not be available in your area.
As with all cancers the best prognosis usually comes when the cancer is detected early so be sure to keep a vigilant watch on your kitty as she gets older and have her checked out regularly.