Gingival Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats
Carcinoma is a type of tissue cancer that is particularly virulent, metastasizing quickly through the body, often with fatal results. Carcinomas can occur in any part of the body, including the mouth. Of the several types of cancerous oral growths that a cat can be affected by, a squamous cell carcinoma is the most common one. These tumors grow very rapidly and typically invade nearby bone and tissue. Unlike other carcinomas these tumors do not usually spread to other organs, but, like other carcinomas, they are mainly seen in older cats, around ten years old. However, squamous cell tumors have been seen in cats as young as three years old.
Symptoms and Types
- Difficulty chewing and eating (dysphagia)
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Blood coming from the mouth
- Weight loss
- Loose teeth
- Growth in the mouth
- Swollen or malformed facial appearance
- Swelling under the jaw or along the neck (from enlarged lymph nodes)
No causes have been found.
You will need to give a thorough history of your cat's health and onset of symptoms. The physical examination will consist of your veterinarian performing an extensive examination of your cat's oral cavity, looking especially for loose teeth and a mass of tissue growth. A simple palpation (examination by touch) will indicate whether the lymph nodes under your cat's jaw and along its neck are enlarged, a confirmation of which would indicate that the body is fighting a diseased condition (as the lymph nodes produce white blood cells). Laboratory tests will include a complete blood count, biochemical profile and urinalysis to make sure your cat's internal organs are functioning normally. If your cat has enlarged lymph nodes, your veterinarian will take a sample of fluid by aspiration needle to better understand the composition of the fluid. This test may tell your veterinarian if the growth in the mouth has spread to the lymph nodes. Your veterinarian will also order x-rays of your cat's chest and head to determine if the oral tumor has spread to bone and tissue near it, or to the lungs. Your veterinarian will also need to perform a biopsy of the growth in order to make a more precise diagnosis of the type of tumor it is.