How Much Does It Cost To Treat A Cat With A Mast Cell Tumor
It is impossible to estimate this cost, as there are so many possible factors going on in the background of individual cases. You should ask your veterinarian for a detailed estimate before agreeing to proceed with treatment. Costs could vary from $600 for a simple case to $6000 or more for a complex case of mast cell tumor.
What Are Cutaneous Mast Cell Tumors In Cats
Cutaneous mast cell tumors are abnormal tissue growths on the skin characteristic of cancer. They are the second most common skin tumors in cats and account for about 20% of feline cutaneous tumors.
The majority of cutaneous mast cell tumors in cats tend to occur on the head , followed by the trunk and the limbs .
Only about 20%-25% of feline mast cell tumors will be cancerous. Cancerous tumors put the lymph nodes and visceral organs at risk.
Sometimes, it may be challenging to distinguish benign cutaneous mast cell tumors from cancerous ones.
Connective Tissue Tumors In Cats
Mast cell tumors are graded according to their location in the skin, presence of inflammation, and how well they are differentiated. Grade 1 cells are well differentiated with a low potential for metastasis Grade 2 cells are intermediately differentiated with a potential for locally invasive metastasis and Grade 3 cells are poorly differentiated or undifferentiated with a high potential for metastasis. Differentiation is a determination of how much a particular tumor cell looks like a normal cell the more differentiated, the more like the normal cell. In general, the more differentiated the mast cell tumor is, the better the prognosis is.
Siamese cats appear to be more susceptible to mast cell tumors than other breeds, and are susceptible to histiocytic cutaneous mast cell tumors . The mean age for the development of the mastocytic form occurs at mean age of 10 years in cats the histiocytic form occurs at a mean age of 2.4 years. It has been reported in animals less than one year of age and in cats as old as 18 years of age.
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Tumors Of The Skin In Cats
, DVM, FNAP, Pawspice and Animal Oncology Consultation Service
Tumors are abnormal growths of cells. Tumors affecting the skin or the tissue just under the skin are the most commonly seen tumors in cats. This is partly because they are the most easily seen tumors and partly because the skin is constantly exposed to many tumor-causing factors in the environment. Chemical carcinogens, solar radiation, and viruses all can cause skin tumors. Hormonal and genetic factors may also play a role.
Distinguishing a tumor from an inflammatory disease is difficult. Skin tumors can appear in many forms. They are usually small lumps or bumps, but they also can occur as hairless areas, discolored patches, rashes, or nonhealing sores. Because skin tumors are so diverse, identifying them should be left to a veterinarian.
Tumors can be benign or malignant . Benign tumors are not invasive, do not spread to other areas of the body, and are easy to remove surgically. Malignant tumors can spread and cause harm to the animal. Malignant tumors can invade surrounding tissue and spread to distant organs. Distinguishing a benign tumor from a cancerous tumor requires specialized knowledge and laboratory equipment. A veterinarian can perform a fine needle aspiration of cells or a biopsy for evaluation.
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
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Clinical And Gross Findings
On physical examination, a mass was palpable in the mid cranial aspect of the abdomen. Initial diagnostic testing included a CBC, serum biochemistry panel, urinalysis, thoracic radiography, and abdominal ultrasonography.
A CBC revealed mild leukocytosis characterized by mild lymphocytosis with a neutrophil count within reference limits . Mild toxic changes were noted in the neutrophils consisting of many Döhle bodies and interpreted as accelerated hematopoiesis likely secondary to cytokine stimulation in response to low-grade inflammation. Small, mature lymphocytes predominated in the lymphoid population, with fewer intermediate-sized lymphocytes with mature chromatin this lymphocyte distribution was suspected to be secondary to physiologic or epinephrine-induced lymphocytosis, yet an emerging lymphoproliferative disorder could not be entirely excluded and monitoring of the lymphocyte population was recommended. Serum biochemical abnormalities included mildly increased creatine kinase , aspartate aminotransferase , alanine aminotransferase , and alkaline phosphatase activities moderate hyperglycemia mild hypernatremia moderate hypokalemia and mild hypercalcemia .
Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 259, S2 10.2460/javma.21.06.0307
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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Overview Of Mast Cell Tumors In Cats
A mast cell tumor is a tumor that arises in the mast cells of a cat. These cells originate in the bone marrow of the animal but mature in peripheral tissues.
While mast cells are present in all tissues, they occur in the greatest concentration in the cats skin, digestive tract, and respiratory tract. One important responsibility is the production of a number of chemicals such as histamine and neutral proteases. However, these structures have a number of additional roles, depending on where in the body they occur.
Around one of every five skin masses seen in cats in veterinary practices is a cutaneous mast cell tumor. Of those growths, around 90 percent are benign. They typically develop on the pets head, neck, or body, but might arise anywhere. They are usually small, hairless, and raised and sometimes cause the cat to itch.
Our doctor notes that as many as 50 percent of feline mast cell tumors are visceral, typically affecting the spleen and sometimes the intestinal tract. The cause of both the benign and the malignant types remains unknown. Mast cell tumors are less common in cats than in dogs.
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.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Mast Cell Tumors In Cats
Mast cell tumors appear on cats as small, firm, hairless raised bumps or lumps on the skin. Your cat may or may not have some itching in those areas, depending on how it reacts to histamine production in its body. If your cat itches and chews the tumor during these flare-ups, it could injure itself.
If the tumor is malignant, your cat may have a decreased appetite, leading to weight loss. Your cat may also vomit or become ill due to the production of inflammatory chemicals.
How Are Mast Cell Tumors in Cats Diagnosed?
Your vet may carry out a series of tests and examinations to determine if your cat has a mast cell tumor. This includes microscopic examination of any potential tumor. Your vet can help determine the type or origin of the tumor, as well as how developed any potentially cancerous tumor may be. Your vet will use this information to guide you in making an informed decision about your cat’s health.
Symptoms Of Mast Cell Tumors
Pet owners may notice an unusual lump on their cats skin. These tumors are generally hairless, but may become reddened and itchy. The cat may groom or chew the bump. Symptoms of internal mast cell tumors include decreased appetite, vomiting, and weight loss. The animal may seem lethargic or depressed.
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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.
What Is A Mast Cell
A mast cell is a type of white blood cell that is found in many tissues of the body. Mast cells are allergy cells and play a role in the allergic response. When exposed to allergens , mast cells release chemicals and compounds, a process called degranulation. One of these compounds is histamine. Histamine is most commonly known for causing itchiness, sneezing, and runny eyes and nose the common symptoms of allergies. But when histamine are released in excessive amounts , they can cause full-body effects, including anaphylaxis, a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction.
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Diagnosis Of Mast Cell Tumors In Cats
Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize mast cell tumors and exclude other diseases that may cause similar symptoms. Tests may include:
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Contact Our Veterinarian In San Diego For Puppy And Kitten Care
If your cat shows early or advanced signs of mast cell tumor growth, the puppy and kitten care professionals at Tierrasanta Veterinary Hospital are ready to assist you. We have years of experience providing San Diego cat owners with mast cell tumor removal services. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 292-6116.
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.
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Veterinary Services For Mast Cell Tumors
If you notice a small lump on your cats skin, it may be a mast cell tumor forming. It might be slightly discolored or have the same general color as the surrounding healthy skin. Our veterinarian will use a syringe to obtain a sample to determine whether or not the lump is a mast cell tumor. If so, there are several potential solutions including radiation therapy and surgical removal. The best course of action will depend on the location and size of your cats mast cell tumor.
Expected Course And Prognosis
- complete surgical removal of low-grade mast-cell tumors in most locations is curative
- Complete surgical removal of high-grade mast-cell tumors or those located in areas associated with a poor prognosis , possibly inguinal regions) often require chemotherapy median survival times averages approximately 1112 months
- Incomplete surgical removal of a low-grade mast-cell tumor may require additional local therapy with another surgery or radiation therapy
- Incomplete surgical removal of a high-grade mast-cell tumor requires additional local therapy, in addition to chemotherapy median survival times range from 6 to 12 months
- Spread of the cancer to lymph nodes in the area of the tumor should be treated with surgical removal of the affected lymph node at the time of the primary tumor removal chemotherapy is necessary median survival times are typically less than 9 months
- Spread of the cancer to lymph nodes located away from the tumor or other organs often is treated with chemotherapy or ancillary therapies alone with a median survival of 4 months or less
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Treatments For Mast Cell Tumors In Cats
If your veterinarian suspects that your cat has a mast cell tumor, theyll carry out a physical examination, with a special emphasis on any lumps or growths.
After that, theyll perform a biopsy, usually by a technique known as fine needle aspiration where theyll use a needle to extract cells from the cat and then examine them under a microscope.
When it comes to treatment, vets will usually perform an operation to remove the tumor. Theyll carry this out while your cat is under anesthesia.
In severe cases, your vet might suggest a course of chemotherapy. This will involve giving drugs to your cat with the goal of attacking and defeating the cancer cells.
While your cat is recovering from mast cell tumors, its imperative that you provide a calm and relaxed living environment. Take steps to remove anything that might unduly stress or worry your kitty.
Has your cat ever had a mast cell tumor? What steps did your vet take to help your kitty recover? Let us know in the comments section below.