Cat Mouth Cancer
"The most common type of cat mouth cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. Other types include fibrosarcoma, lymphoma, and malignant melanoma. Most often it attacks the tongue, although it can occur elsewhere in the mouth or in the throat as well. The prognosis for feline mouth cancer is usually not good."
Cat Mouth Cancer Symptoms
Symptoms of cat mouth cancer include drooling and bleeding from the mouth. Your cat may have difficulty eating. She may drop food from her mouth when she eats or may stop eating altogether. She may fail to groom herself as she normally does. She also may begin sleeping more than usual.
Any time your cat’s appetite changes or she has difficulty eating, you should see your vet. These can be symptoms of many conditions, some very serious and some less so. It’s always important to get them checked out.
Your veterinarian may suspect feline mouth cancer if when extracting a tooth it comes out too easily.
Cat Mouth Cancer Diagnosis
Your vet will do a thorough physical examination, including an examination of the inside of your cat’s mouth. He or she will look for signs of irritation or irregular texture that can indicate cancer. In more advanced cases, there may be a lump or swelling.
A biopsy (tissue sample) will be done to determine that the tumor is in fact cancerous. Under general anesthesia, one or more small plugs of the affected skin will be removed for testing.
A test called a chemo assay can be done, which tests various chemotherapy drugs against the cancer cells removed during the biopsy to determine which will be most effective against the particular cancer.
Cat Mouth Cancer Treatment
Feline mouth cancer is a difficult cancer to treat. Sometimes the cancer can be removed surgically, and if it can be completely removed, there is a good chance that the cat can make it. Most often, though, the cancer cannot be completely removed and the cancer reoccurs.
Chemotherapy is not a cure, but can slow the progression of the cancer. As mentioned above, a chemo assay can be done to determine the best chemotherapy drugs for your cat. Most cats tolerate chemotherapy fairly well, but your cat may experience some vomiting, hair loss, and drowsiness.
You may need to try different kinds of food to see what your cat is able to tolerate and what she is able to eat easily. If she eats dry food, she may find kibble of a certain shape and size easier to eat than others, so you may need to try a few brands to find the right one. Also, some foods have a stronger smell, which encourages cats with weak appetites to eat.
Your cat may also need to be treated for pain. It can be difficult to give pills to a cat with mouth cancer. There is a transdermal cream that is rubbed into the skin on the inside of the cat’s ear that can be used to administer pain medication instead of pills. Just ask your vet.
Feline Dental Pathology and Care
Jan Bellows, DVM
Cancer in Cats
Arnold Plotnick, DVM
Feline Oral Neoplasia
P. Bergman and D.T. Carmichael
The Animal Medical Center, New York, New York, USA.