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Cats + Tumors

  • The histiocyte group of cells are part of the body's immune surveillance system. Cutaneous (reactive) histiocytosis is an uncommon condition of dogs. Cutaneous, reactive histiocytosis is an immune dysfunction, mainly of young dogs and probably due to persistent antigenic stimulation by a variety of antigens (foreign proteins).

  • Cytology is the microscopic examination of cell samples. Cytology can be used to diagnose growths or masses found on the surface of the body, and also to assess bodily fluids, internal organs, and abnormal fluids that may accumulate, especially in the chest and abdomen. Cells can be collected using various methods including fine needle aspiration, skin scraping, impression smear, cotton-tipped swabs, or lavage. A biopsy is the surgical removal of a representative sample of tissue from a suspicious lesion. The most common biopsy techniques are punch biopsy, wedge biopsy, and excision biopsy. The tissue is then processed and is examined under a microscope via histopathology. Histopathology allows the veterinary pathologist to make a diagnosis, classify the tumor, and predict the course of the disease.

  • Tumors of the intestinal epithelial lining include non-cancerous polyps, benign adenomas and malignant epithelial tumors (adenocarcinomas). The polyps and adenomas may be multiple and cause local obstruction.

  • Muscle (called smooth muscle) and fibrous connective tissues form the framework (stroma) that holds other tissues together within the organs of the body. They enable these organs to contract and stretch as part of their function, for example in digestion of food.

  • Ear canal tumors can be benign or malignant. Diagnosis is typically via fine needle aspiration or tissue biopsy. The treatment of choice for ear canal tumors is surgical excision. For benign tumors, complete surgical removal is curative. With malignant tumors, a CT scan is often performed prior to surgery to determine how invasive the tumor is and enable surgical planning. Total ear canal ablation and bulla osteotomy (TECA-BO) is the most common surgical option. Radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be pursued.

  • These are tumors arising from structures within the eye. The most common intraocular tumors originate from the melanin producing cells (discussed in a separate handout).

  • Ocular melanomas in cats may be benign or malignant. Malignant tumors, called diffuse iris melanomas, present as multifocal iridial pigmentation, and benign tumors, called limbal melanomas, present as a discernable limbal mass. The diagnosis of these tumors is in large part by clinical signs and tumor appearance. Treatment for diffuse iris melanomas may include close monitoring, laser surgery, iridectomy, and enucleation. As some iris melanomas progress slowly (over years) intervention may not be required for some time. Metastasis has been reported in about 60% of cases of diffuse iris melanoma, with spread most commonly to the regional lymph nodes, kidneys, liver, and lungs, but unlike other cancers, metastatic disease may not become evident for years. Treatment for limbal melanomas may include close monitoring, and surgery (with or without grafting) sometimes combined with cryosurgery, laser surgery, or radiation therapy. Enucleation is an option if the treatment is unsuccessful or the tumor regrows. Histopathology is always recommended for a definitive diagnosis.

  • A 'tumor' is a lump. Some tumors are cancerous and some are benign. There are several different types of tumors that occur in the tissues around the eye. Many of these tumors have physical effects on the eye, causing soreness, redness and weeping. The most common treatment for tumors around the eye is surgical removal of the lump.

  • It is important to recognize that multiple tumors in the liver are not always cancers. The livers of older dogs may become nodular without causing any clinical effects.

  • Lung tumors are considered rare in cats and dogs. Certain breeds are more predisposed to develop pulmonary tumors than others. Not all pets with pulmonary tumors exhibit clinical signs and are often diagnosed incidentally from routine chest X-rays. Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration or biopsy will confirm the diagnosis. Pulmonary carcinomas have a high tendency to metastasize, so full staging is recommended. Surgery is by far the most common treatment, though radiation therapy may be considered if surgery is not possible.