Oral Chondrosarcoma in Cats
Chondrosarcomas are malignant, cancerous tumors of the cartilage, the connective tissue between bones. These tumors are characteristic for their slow but progressive invasion of the surrounding tissues. They are often mistaken for benign (non-spreading) tumors because of their slow spread and lack of symptoms. They are often found by accident, when they have become large enough to notice, appearing as a lump in the mouth or under the skin of the face, or when they have started to cause pain for the affected animal.
These tumors have a smooth to slightly nodular surface and will often stick to bone, often in the upper jaw, where it is also possible for the tumor to further metastasize (i.e., into the bone). They may also spread to the lungs and sometimes into the lymph nodes.
This form of cancer is relatively rare in cats.
Symptoms and Types
Chondrosarcomas are commonly located on the upper jaw, which may cause facial deformity or loose teeth. Other symptoms may include:
- Excessive salivation/drooling
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Weight loss
- Difficulty eating, anorexia
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Lymph node swellings in the neck (on occasion)
- None identified
You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your cat's health and onset of symptoms. A thorough physical exam in this case will include X-rays of the skull to determine the exact location and severity of the tumor, and to see if it has spread into the bone. Chest X-rays can allow your veterinarian to examine your cat's lungs for further spread of the cancer.
A large, deep-tissue sample (down to the bone) is required to definitively diagnose the tumor type. If your cat's lymph nodes are enlarged, your veterinarian will also use a fine needle to take fluid and tissue samples from them. The biopsy samples will be sent to a diagnostics laboratory to have the cells analyzed.