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Mast Cell Cancer In Cats

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Mast Cells Tumors in Cats

Preventing your cat from rubbing, scratching, licking or biting the tumor will reduce itching, inflammation, ulceration, infection and bleeding. Any ulcerated area needs to be kept clean.

After surgery, the operation site needs to be kept clean and your pet should not be allowed to interfere with the site. Report any loss of sutures or significant swelling or bleeding to your veterinarian. If you require additional advice on post-surgical care, please ask.

What Causes This Cancer

Why a particular cat may develop this, or any cancer, is generally not straightforward. Very few cancers have a single known cause. Most seem to be caused by a complex mix of risk factors, some environmental and some genetic or hereditary. A genetic mutation in a protein involved in the replication and division of cells has been well-described in the development of MCTs in dogs. In cats, about 67% of MCTs also have this mutation.

Beyond Those Nonspecific Signs However Cats May Develop Additional Signs Based On The Location Of Their Intestinal Cancer

Cats with small intestinal cancer show signs related to decreased small intestinal function.

Vomiting is often a predominant sign in these cats, and it may be accompanied by a decreased appetite or anorexia. In some cases, the vomit may contain undigested blood or digested blood .

Cats with large intestinal cancer may demonstrate a different set of clinical signs, related to the fact that their tumors are located lower in the intestines.

Affected cats may have diarrhea, caused by the inability of the colon to reabsorb water from the stool. Alternatively, affected cats may struggle to pass stool beyond their tumors and become constipated. If the tumor is bleeding, you may notice frank red blood in the stool.

All these signs can be caused by other gastrointestinal illnesses and are not specific to intestinal cancer. If your cat is showing any of these signs, a thorough workup will be needed to identify the cause of your cats intestinal issues.

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Basal Cell Tumors And Carcinomas

Basal cells lie at the base of the top layer of the skin . A benign growth of these cells is a basal cell tumor. A malignant growth is a basal cell carcinoma.

Basal cell tumors are common in older cats. Domestic longhair, Himalayan, and Persian are the breeds most at risk. Tumors may develop almost anywhere on the body. These tumors generally appear as firm, solitary, often hairless or ulcerated lumps. The lumps may stick out like stalks from the skin surface. They vary in size from less than 0.4 inches to more than 4 inches in diameter. In cats, these tumors are often dark in color. Cysts may form. Although basal cell tumors are benign, some grow rapidly and may cause extensive ulceration and secondary inflammation. Surgical removal is an effective treatment.

Basal cell carcinomas are malignant tumors that occur most frequently in aged cats. Persians are more prone to them. They often appear as ulcers on the head, legs, or neck. Unlike benign basal cell tumors, these carcinomas are not usually raised up from the skin. They spread, forming new ulcers. Surgical removal is the treatment of choice. These tumors spread to neighboring skin but seldom spread to other organs.

Defending Against Mast Cell Tumors

Just found out about mast cell tumor

Depending on when they are caught, mast cell tumors in cats can be anything from annoying to devastating. In the earliest stage, they may be removed quickly, and the cat can be monitored. Later on, cats may need more surgery or chemotherapy in order to decrease any discomfort from the disease. In advanced stages, you and your veterinarian may need to make end of life choices for your pet. Pet parents can help by staying on top of monitoring for early signs of the condition. When tumors are found, about half occur on the cat’s trunk or around their genital area, another 40% occur on the legs or paws, and the remaining 10% are on the head or neck. Even if your cat is not displaying other symptoms, it is important to alert your veterinarian of any odd growths on your cat so proper diagnosis and treatment can begin.

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Symptoms Of Mast Cell Tumor In Cats

Your veterinarian will check your cat over carefully, including palpating your cats body, feeling for any unusual lumps or bumps, both internal and external.

The clinical signs of feline mast cell tumors depend on the location of the tumor.

  • Cutaneous mast cell tumors present as lumps, swellings or lesions in the skin, or under the skin, usually around the head and neck, but sometimes elsewhere. Typically they are shiny pink hairless nodules on the skin, but there are many variations on this: they can be wide plaques, or lumps beneath skin that appears normal. Most are solitary lumps, but in 20% of cats, there may be multiple tumors, in different sites. A rarer type of mast cell tumor, known as an atypical cutaneous mast cell tumor, particularly common in Siamese cats, is sometimes seen in younger cats. This type can sometimes spontaneously regress over many months, but surgical removal is still the recommended course of action.
  • Visceral mast cells tumors are more serious, causing signs of illness associated with their presence in the spleen, liver or in the intestines. Splenic tumors tend to cause vague signs of unwellness, with dullness, inappetence becoming progressively worse, while intestinal tumors tend to cause signs linked to intestinal malfunction, including weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. These internal mast cell tumors are more likely to metastasize to elsewhere in the body, including the bone marrow.

Treatment Of Mast Cell Tumors

The treatment of choice for mast cell tumors is surgical removal, and antihistamines which are often administered before any interventions with mast cell tumors.

The treatment of choice for mast cell tumors is surgical removal, with as wide margins of normal tissue as possible. Surgical excision can be straightforward or complex with cutaneous mast cell tumors, depending on the location, accessibility and size of the tumor.

For visceral mast cell tumors, this can involve splenectomy . If the intestine is the focus of the mast cell tumor, surgical removal may be far more challenging.

Antihistamines are often administered before any interventions with mast cell tumors, to try to prevent degranulation of the mast cells, which could cause serious side effects analogous to a severe systemic allergic reaction. Risks include gastric ulcers as part of this reaction.

Other treatment options may include chemotherapy, such as lomustine, and radiation therapy as a follow up to surgery. These may be suggested in selected cases by your veterinarian.

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Treatment Varies With The Tumor Location And Grading

Mast cell tumors are the most common feline cancer of the spleen, the second most common skin tumor , and third most common tumor identified in the intestinal tract of cats.

Mast cells are a type of white blood cell, part of your cats immune system. They are usually associated with allergic reactions, and they contain granules with enzymes, such as histamine, in them. These granules are released as part of an immune-mediated inflammatory response that has evolved to destroy foreign invaders when mast cells encounter allergens that they have become sensitized to. The release of small amounts of histamine tends to cause sneezing and itching. A large release of histamine, though, can lead to whole-body symptoms, including anaphylactic shock, which is potentially life-threatening.

The cause of mast cell tumors is not well known, but environmental triggers are suspected. In dogs, there is a genetic mutation in a protein called KIT that is involved in most mast cell tumors. This mutation occurs in a protein that helps to regulate cell replication and division. About 67% of mast cell tumors in cats have this mutation.

Most mast cell tumors appear in cats 10 years of age and older. These growths tend to be on the extremities . They may develop as single growths or as multiple masses, and are generally pink, smooth or plaque-like, and associated with hair loss. In some cases, ulceration may occur.

What You Should Do

Symptoms

Diagnostic Steps
Treatment Options
Bottom Line

Symptoms Of Intestinal Cancer

Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs and Cats

Intestinal cancer can cause a wide variety of gastrointestinal signs. These signs are often clinically indistinguishable from other gastrointestinal illnesses, which means that intestinal cancer can only be diagnosed through testing.

Common nonspecific signs of intestinal cancer include weight loss, lethargy, abdominal pain, and abdominal swelling.

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What Are Mast Cell Tumors

Tumors are another name for cancer, which is defined as a disease caused by uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. The name of the tumor indicates the type of body cell that has become abnormal and cancerous.

Mast cell tumors are therefore a type of cancer, with the primary cell involved being the mast cell, which is normally a part of the immune system.

Mast cells are a special type of white blood cell that are usually found in tissues that present to the outer world, such as skin, respiratory tract and intestinal tract: they do not circulate in the bloodstream. They are part of the immune system: their function is to be a part of the bodys defences against parasites.

Normal mast cells contain tiny granules that stain bright pink: these contain highly reactive biochemicals such as histamine, which are one of the tools used as part of the body defences against parasites.

A mast cell is activated by the contact of its receptors with an IgE antibody, which another part of the immune system produces in response to antigens on parasites such as worms. When the mast cell is activated by the IgE antibody, large quantities of histamine and other biochemicals are released from the cell, and in the ideal world, these chemicals will repel the invading parasite.

When a mast cell tumor develops, this means that there is uncontrolled proliferation of mast cells.

Is This A Common Tumor

“Mast cell tumors are less common in cats than in dogs.”

Mast cell tumors are less common in cats than in dogs although cats have more mast cells in the skin compared with dogs. Cats with mast cell tumors are usually over four years of age but any age can be susceptible including kittens. The tumors often occur at multiple sites within the same cat but most are benign . Occasionally mast cell tumors involve internal organs such as liver, spleen and lungs.

“Mast cell tumors are particularly common in Siamese cats.”

Mast cell tumors are particularly common in Siamese cats and this breed has a specific variant called the histiocytic mast cell tumor.

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Mast Cell Tumor Symptoms In Dogs And Cats

Diagnosing mast cell tumors can be complicated, as they can look different from animal to animal. Most commonly, they appear as a single mass in or just under the skin. They can be white, pink, or tan in colour. They can occasionally be hairless, or even bruised or ulcerated. Sometimes they can even change in size. In some cases, a pet may have more than one mass.

In dogs, they can appear anywhere on the body. In cats, they are more common on the head and neck, especially around the ear.

Because of the many roles mast cells play, and the different types of hormones and bodily chemicals they produce, other symptoms can be varied in dogs and cats. These include vomiting, diarrhoea, swelling of the body, fever and potentially severe reaction.

Can This Cancer Disappear Without Treatment

27 Top Photos Mast Cell Tumor Cat Intestine : Review for Path exam ...

Some mast cell proliferations are not neoplastic but are temporary overgrowths and may disappear even when they are present in lymph nodes. Cats also have large numbers of mast cells in some inflammatory reactions. These are not neoplastic but they can cause severe urticaria and pruritus, which are poorly responsive to treatment. Young related Sphinx cats have also been diagnosed with skin infiltrations of mast cells associated with pruritic papules and plaques.

“Well-differentiated multiple tumors in kittens may regress spontaneously.”

Well-differentiated multiple tumors in kittens may regress spontaneously. Mastocytosis may be a hyperplasia. Occasionally , a kitten may develop hundreds of similar lesions. The behavior of multiple tumors in older cats is uncertain.

Histiocytic mastocytomas in Siamese cats are often multiple and regress spontaneously.

Poorly differentiated mast cell tumors do not disappear spontaneously.

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What Is Intestinal Cancer In Cats

Cancer refers to any malignant tumor that can metastasize or spread to other locations within the body. In intestinal cancer, the tumor is located anywhere within the intestines. This includes both the small intestine and the large intestine .

You may also hear the phrase intestinal cancer used in reference to cancer within the stomach, although this would more accurately be termed gastrointestinal cancer. Gastrointestinal refers to the entire digestive tract, while intestinal refers specifically to the intestines.

There are a variety of different cancers that can occur within the intestines, each of which requires different types of treatment. Additionally, the clinical signs of intestinal cancer can vary significantly, depending on the location of the tumor and tumor characteristics.

Risk Factors Associated With Mast Cell Tumors

Any cat can develop a mast cell tumor. However, some factors increase the risk of mast cell tumor development, such as:

  • Age: The average age a cat develops a mast cell tumor is 10 years or older. However, younger cats have been known to develop them, as well.
  • Breed: Cats of any breed can develop mast cell tumors, but some breeds are more likely to develop them than others.

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Signs Of Feline Mast Cell Tumors

The signs of MCT in cats depend on whether it is the cutaneous or visceral form.

The cutaneous form of MCT may cause the following signs:

  • Round, hairless, raised bump or bumps on the skin that may not seem to bother the cat or may cause intermittent licking and chewing of the area.
  • Mast cell tumors of the skin may wax and wane in size. This is because the mast cells that make them up can be volatile. Since their normal job is reacting to bodily invaders, they are touchy, and can mount an allergic reaction if they’re bothered.

The visceral form of MCT in cats may cause the following signs:

  • Lethargy

About Dr Pete Wedderburn Dvm

Removing a Tumor Under the Skin: Mast Cell Tumor Cat

Dr Pete Wedderburn qualified as a vet from Edinburgh in 1985 and has run his own 4-veterinarian companion animal practice in County Wicklow, Ireland, since 1991. Pete is well known as a media veterinarian with regular national tv, radio and newspaper slots, including a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph since 2007. Pete is known as “Pete the Vet” on his busy Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, regularly posting information on topical subjects and real-life cases from his clinic. He also write a regular blog at www.petethevet.com. His latest book: Pet Subjects, was published by Aurum Press in 2017.

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How Mast Cell Tumors Affect Your Cat

In most instances, cutaneous mast cell tumors are diagnosed in cats using a fine needle in order to gather cells to study under a microscope. Diagnosing visceral mast cell tumors can be harder to define. Because these are internal, diagnosis is often dependent on the cat owner and their vet noticing changes and behavior and other symptoms. Internal organs may seem enlarged, and your cat may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and fatigue. In many cases, both internal and external tumors may be present and their development can come in several stages.

    • Stage 1 – A single, noncancerous tumor
    • Stage 2- A single cancerous tumor that has begun spreading to surrounding lymph nodes.
    • Stage 3 – Multiple skin tumors, or a large tumor that has begun to grow under the skin
    • Stage 4 – When the tumor has caused cancer to spread into internal organs or the blood.

What Types Of Treatment Are Available

“Surgery is the treatment of choice whenever possible.”

Surgery is the treatment of choice whenever possible. Treatments with drugs or radiation are of uncertain outcome, have side effects and are only used after careful consideration and discussion.

If your cat experiences any gastrointestinal side effects of the mast cell tumor , these can be treated symptomatically with hydrogen ion receptor antagonists such as cimetidine, or calcium channel blockers such as omeprazole.

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Recovery Of Mast Cell Tumor In Cats

While they may appear frightening, mast cell tumors actually have a good prognosis for recovery. With surgical removal of the tumor, most cats will recover and lead normal healthy lives. As with any surgical procedure, you will need to carefully follow your vets post-operative instructions for wound care. You will also need to keep your cat quiet for several days following surgery.

While they can spread, cancerous mast cell tumors do not have a tendency to metastasize or move to other parts of the body. Your cat will need routine follow-up appointments with your veterinarian and careful monitoring on the owners part to ensure that tumors do not return or appear in other areas.

Mast Cell Tumors In Cats Symptoms Causes And Treatments

Figure 2 from Mast Cell Tumors in Cats

Mast cell tumors in cats can present in two different forms: cutaneous and visceral. Cutaneous mastocytoma is the most common and is the second most prevalent type of malignant cancer in cats. Visceral mastocytoma occurs mainly in the spleen, although it can also occur in other locations such as the intestine.

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