1. Cancer is among the leading causes of death in cats.
2. “Cancer” is defined as any malignant cellular tumor. A “tumor” is a swelling or other new growth of tissue caused by uncontrolled and progressive cell multiplication.
3. Tumors can be benign or malignant. “Malignancy” is defined as the tendency of something to progressively worsen and to result in death, usually accompanied by properties of invasiveness and metastasis.
4. Another word for cancer is “neoplasia.” Feline neoplasia tends to strike older and intact animals. An exception to this is in cats infected with the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) or the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). These cats have an increased risk of developing cancer at a young age.
5. Many different cancers occur in cats, including most commonly lymphoma, fibrosarcoma, mammary tumors, mast cell tumors, squamous cell carcinoma and other soft tissue sarcomas, among others. Each of these can present in multiple ways, with varying frequencies and degrees of severity.
6. Certain cat breeds are predisposed to developing certain types of cancers. Persians and Himalyan cats are more suseptiable to basel cell tumors, while Siamese more often develop cutaneous mast cell tumors.
7. Spaying or neutering may reduce the risk of feline neoplasia.
8. Little is know about the prevention of cancer in companion animals. Early diagnosis and treatment of cancer always improves the prognosis.
9. Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are available at specialized veterinary hospitals to treat cancer in companion cats. With prompt diagnosis, aggressive treatment and ongoing management, including pain management and dietary support, many cats with cancer can live long, comfortable and relatively normal lives.
10. Cancer is even more widespread in cats and dogs than in humans. Companion animals from smokers’ homes are more susceptible to bladder cancer than those from non-smoking homes.
11. Abdominal cancers are common and can involve the spleen, liver, kidneys, and intestines. It can be hard to recognize these cancers early because the abdomen disguises swollen, cancerous organs for a long time. (This type of cancer I have.)
12. Pets exposed to flea and tick dips, or to flea and tick shampoos, develop bladder cancer more often than pets that don’t use these products. It appears that the “inert” ingredients, usually made from petroleum (benzene, toluene, xylene) cause the bladder cancer. (Better to use Frontline or Advantage!)
13. Skin tumors are the most commonly diagnosed cancers in pets because they are easiest to see. Dogs are more likely to develop skin tumors (canine skin cancer) than are cats, but skin tumors in cats are more likely to be malignant. A common skin tumor in cats is squamous cell carcinoma that develops where sunlight damages pink skin of white-haired cats. In addition to squamous cell carcinoma, skin cancer is commonly caused by mast cells and melanocytes.