Educational Articles

Cats + Tumors

  • Osteosarcomas are somewhat rare in cats and progress slowly. Osteosarcoma is very painful. The most common location where osteosarcomas develop in cats is the hindlimb. Amputation is by far the most common treatment. Chemotherapy is not generally pursued without evidence of metastasis, given the relatively long-term control with surgery alone.

  • Ovarian tumors are quite rare in North American pets, mainly due to routine spaying practices. Several types of tumors can arise from the tissues of the ovary. How the tumor will affect your pet is entirely dependent on the location and type of tumor. By far, ovarian cancer is most commonly diagnosed by abdominal ultrasound or during a spay procedure. Full staging is recommended prior to surgery to determine if the cancer has metastasized. Treatment for solitary masses without evidence of spread typically involves ovariohysterectomy. If metastasis is present, chemotherapy should be considered, however its efficacy is not completely known. Without evidence of spread, ovarian tumors carry a good prognosis.

  • The pancreas is a glandular organ located close to the liver, the stomach, and the small intestine. It has two main functions, an exocrine function and an endocrine function.

  • The four parathyroid glands (two on each side) are closely associated with the thyroid gland, located just below the larynx or voice box in the neck.

  • The pituitary gland is an endocrine gland located at the base of the brain. Endocrine glands produce specialized chemicals called hormones, which regulate and integrate many activities to maintain internal stability of the body.

  • Plasma cell tumors develop as a result of dysregulated production of plasma cells and are relatively uncommon in dogs and cats. Some plasma cell tumors are benign and are typically confined to the skin or oral cavity, and most are very treatable. Surgical excision is the treatment of choice for removal of benign plasma cell tumors, with little to no recurrence if completely excised. Conversely, multiple myeloma is an aggressive cancer that is usually treated with chemotherapy.

  • Tumors of the prostate are relatively uncommon in dogs and extremely rare in cats. The most common tumor is prostatic adenocarcinoma. Clinical signs include blood in the urine, changes in urination habits, or straining to urinate or defecate. Metastasis to the pelvic bone and/or lumbar spine is likely. FNA of the prostate aids in the diagnosis, though surgical biopsy may need to be considered. Treatment is limited. Stents may be placed in patients with tumors obstructing the urethra. Radiation therapy in conjunction with NSAID therapy has shown significant survival advantage when compared to pets who did not receive NSAID therapy. The role and/or benefit of chemotherapy is not well understood.

  • Radiation therapy is the medical use of high dose radiation to destroy cancer cells by damaging the cells’ DNA to interfere with cell replication and kill them. It may be used on its own or in combination with other treatments, such as surgery or chemotherapy, or to reduce the size of very large tumors prior to surgery. There are several radiation protocols used in veterinary medicine. Your veterinary oncologist will choose the therapy most appropriate for your pet’s individual situation.

  • Salivary cancers are almost invariably malignant tumors originating from the secretory cells of the glands. Other swellings or tumors of salivary glands may be due to infections and cysts.

  • Soft tissue sarcomas are a broad category of tumor types. These tumors can arise anywhere there is soft tissue, including the limbs, joints, face, intestine and reproductive tissues. Routine staging is recommended to help dictate therapy. If surgery is possible, wide-surgical excision is pursued. If removal is incomplete or not possible, adjunct radiation therapy can be pursued. Metronomic chemotherapy may provide benefit in patients when few options exist.