Nose Pad Cancer (Squamous Cell Carcinoma) in Cats

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Nasal Planum in Cats

Squamous cell carcinoma is a malignant tumor of the squamous epithelial cells. In this case, it is a tumor of the nasal planum or the tissues in the nose pad. This tumor is more common in cats than dogs. Exposure to inhaled chemicals increases the risk of nasal tumors, including indoor use of coal, cigarettes, and air fresheners.

Symptoms and Types

  • This tumor progress slowly, often starting as a superficial crust and scab
  • Decreased air through the nose (i.e.,  more mouth breathing)
  • Sneezing and reverse sneezing (i.e., sudden, involuntary inward breaths)
  • Nosebleeds (epistaxis)
  • Nasal discharge
  • Swelling of involved area, including swelling of the eye, loss of sight
  • Facial deformity
  • Excessive tears from eyes (epiphora)
  • Neurological signs (from pressure on brain) – seizure, disorientation, behavioral changes


  • Exposure to ultraviolet light
  • Absence of protective pigment
  • Exposure to toxic inhalants


You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough medical history of your cat's health and onset of symptoms. Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination with full laboratory testing, including complete blood tests, biochemical profiles, and urinalysis. The results of these tests are usually normal in affected patients. While metastasis is rarely seen in the lungs, your veterinarian may take thoracic X-rays to evaluate for metastasis into the lungs. Other conditions your doctor will look for are dental diseases, rhinitis (bacterial and viral), aspergillosis, or cryptococcosis.

For an appropriate diagnosis to be made, your veterinarian will need to take tissue and fluid samples from the affected area. Your veterinarian will also take samples from the lymph nodes to detect whether metastasis is occurring. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans may provide more information about the extent of the tumor, as well as to help in surgical resection of the tumor.

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