Feline Breast Cancer
Feline breast cancer is a fairly common cancer in cats. Female cats are much more likely to get breast cancer than male cats and are usually between 10 and 12 years of age. Cats who have not been spayed are much more likely to get breast cancer than those who have been spayed.
Certain feline breeds are more likley to get breast cancer than others. The most likley cats for the disease are tricolored cats and siamese cats (25% of breast cancer cases are in siamese cats). The next category where the diseasse occurs are cats that are domestic shorthaired and longhaired.
Feline Breast Cancer Symptoms
Symptoms of cat breast cancer include:
Hard lumps around the cat’s nipples
Red and swollen nipples
Tan or yellow discharge from the nipples
It’s important to take your cat to the vet immediately if you notice signs of breast cancer, because early detection is key to your cat’s chances of survival.
Cat Breast Cancer Diagnosis
If your cat has symptoms of feline breast cancer, your vet will do a thorough physical exam, and also perform some blood tests to evaluate your cat’s health. Some x-rays will be done to look at the tumors. Their number, size, and location will be important in making decisions about treatment.
Because about 90% of all mammary tumors are malignant (cancerous), a biopsy is not usually done. They are simply treated as if they are in fact cancerous. After the tumors have been removed, they can be tested in order to see if they are cancerous in order to determine if further treatment such as chemotherapy is warranted.
Feline Breast Cancer Treatment
Breast cancer in cats requires aggressive treatment. Surgery is the treatment of choice for feline breast cancer. A radical mastectomy will be performed, either unilaterally (just on one side) or bilaterally (on both sides), depending on where the tumor(s) lie. The reason all mammary glands are removed, even if they do not all appear to be affected by the tumor(s), is because this greatly decreases the risk of a recurrence of the cancer. Axillary and inguinal lymph nodes are often removed as well.
Surgery may be followed by chemotherapy. A combination of doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide is most effective. Chemotherapy is particularly important if the cancer has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body.
Radiation therapy is not extensively used to treat feline breast cancer, but may help with pushign the disease into remission. More study is needed.
Even with treatment, the survival rate for cats with breast cancer is often less than one year, although some cats live longer than that. It depends on whether or not all of the cancer can be removed with surgery. Breast cancer is highly likely to spread to other parts of the body, which is why it’s important to catch it early if at all possible.
Post Operative Care for Breast Cancer in Cats includes medications to manage any pain and other drugs to minimize the effects of chemotherapy.
Natural Supportive Therapies for Breast Cancer in Cats
Omega-3 fatty acids can be a useful supplement when helping a cat with cancer. Clinical trials in humans suggest a lower incidence of breast cancer in women who took this supplement. Studies in rodents and dogs also support this approach.
A natural alternative is to try a supplement that is made from ingredients that have some clinical support in their potential impact on cancer patients. One supplement made for cats that is worth researching is PetAlive C-Caps Formula for the prevention and treatment of cancer in pets.
Cat Breast Cancer Prevention
There is some evidence that feline breast cancer can be prevented with neutering.
Feline Mammary Tumors
E. Gregory MacEwen DVM and Stephen J. Withrow DVM
Advances in the Treatment of Mammary Neoplasia
Antony Moore, BVSc, MVSc,
Diplomate ACVIM (Oncology)
Direktor, Veterinary Oncology Consultants
379 Lake Innes Drive, Wauchope NSW 2446, Australia
The Use of Nutreaceuticals in Cancer Therapy
D.J. Davenport, P. Roudebush
Mark Morris Institute, Topeka, KS, USA.
Hills Pet Nutrition Center, Topeka, KS, USA.