Feline Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma


Feline oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common type of oral tumor found in cats. They can be seen on the gums and tongue. 70% of tumors in the mouth are squamous cell with the remainder diagnosed as being fibrosarcoma, lyphnoma and melanoma.

This type of cancer is malignant, meaning it spreads quickly. Unlike other forms of squamous cell carcinoma, it is not caused by sunlight, with a more likely cause chemicals or other toxins that your cat has come in contact with.

Examples of possible toxins include cigarette smoke, canned cat food and even a flea collar.

The disease may appear like a dental problem since it occurs in the mouth. Tumors move from the skin into the bone causing treatment to involve removal of bone segments.

The median age of cats with this condition is 13 years with 10 - 13 years being most common. Cats as young as 3 and as old as 21 can get the condition.

Symptoms of Feline Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Symptoms of oral squamous cell carcinoma in cats include:


Diagnosis of this condition involves a biopsy (lab test) of diseased tissue. The testing procedure involves anesthesia. Other tests include a physical exam, blood test and a urine test.

A fine needle aspiration test where a sample of the lymph nodes are taken might also be needed.

Treatment for Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma

If caught early treatment outlook is good, although catching the disease early is unlikely. If the tumors have started to spread to other areas of the mouth and lymph nodes then treatment could be difficult.

In severe cases your veterinarian may have to remove the lower jaw.

Therapies in general are not effective. Cats that have had surgery and even radiation have high levels of recurrence. Survival times tend to be measure in days or months after surgery or radiation.


Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health

Feline Oral Neoplasm
P. Bergman and D.T. Carmichael
The Animal Medical Center, New York, New York, USA.


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