What are Skin Masses on Cats?
What is it?
How is it Treated?
No specific breeds of cats are known to be predisposed to skin masses. Skin masses can occur in cats of any breed or age.
While grooming her beloved Persian cat, Fluffy, Amanda noticed a small, unusual lump on his skin. Concerned about this new discovery, she promptly scheduled a visit to the veterinarian to have it examined.
Skin masses on cats are growths that appear or are felt on their skin. These growths usually look like skin lumps in cats or bumps on your cats, but sometimes they can grow into tumors. Sometimes, though, they aren’t visible at all.
There are two types of skin masses: benign and malignant. Benign skin masses are harmless and usually don’t require treatment of skin lumps. Malignant skin masses, however, can become cancerous over time.
- Benign skin masses tend to develop on the face, ears, paws, tail, and neck. They can also form on other body parts, including the abdomen, back, chest, and shoulders. Most of the time, benign skin masses are caused by parasites, bacteria, or mites.
- Malignant skin masses, on the other hand, are much rarer. They typically form on the nose, mouth, eyelids, lips, anus, genitals, and scrotum. Some of these cancers spread to other body areas, while others remain confined to where they started.
While malignant skin masses are uncommon, they can be deadly if left untreated. Fortunately, early detection is possible. Regular veterinary exams can detect skin masses before they turn into cancerous tumors.
There are many different types of tumors or malignant lumps and bumps on cats. Some of the most common ones include:
- Surgical granulomas are usually caused by foreign bodies such as fleas or ticks. They can sometimes lead to infection.
- Mammary tumors are benign growths that develop inside the mammary glands.
- Lipoma – This soft tissue tumor develops within the skin and can grow quite large.
- Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form around organs or tissues.
- Granular cell tumor – This cancerous tumor grows beneath the surface affecting the skin and causing ulcers.
Causes of Skin Masses on Cats
Several conditions, including allergies, parasites, cancer, and other health problems, often cause these lumps and bumps. Some cases of skin mass are harmless, while others can lead to severe medical complications.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of feline skin mass. They tend to develop on skin areas that receive regular sunlight, such as the head, ears, paws, tail, and belly. These tumors are usually small (less than 0.4 inches or 1 centimeter) and are most likely to occur on the head or abdomen. Other factors include age, breed like a Himalayan or a Siamese cat, diet, genetics, and hormonal status. Most cases of squamous cell carcinoma are found during routine examinations. However, some tumors generally may go unnoticed for months or even years.
A cat with excessive sun exposure is more likely to contract skin cancer. This is because sunlight causes damage to cells, including DNA mutations. This leads to changes in gene expression and, ultimately, cancer development. In addition, ultraviolet radiation damages melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing pigment. Melanin protects against UV rays, so it makes sense that people with darker hair and eyes are less susceptible to developing skin cancer.
What are the Symptoms of Skin Tumors on Cats?
The symptom common in cat skin mass in felids is a lumpy growth on the body. The lumpiness is caused by the accumulation of fluid under the skin. This condition can occur anywhere on the cat’s body, including the back, chest, abdomen, legs, tail, paws, ears, eyes, mouth, nose, genitals, anus, and around the head and neck (the area between the hind legs).
A lumpy growth usually appears as a complex, raised, red, scaly, or swollen area. It can feel like a pea underneath the skin. A lumpy change can cause pain when touched, especially near the spine.
Other symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Diagnosis for Feline Skin Masses
Soft tissue masses are common in young cats and dogs, and most can be diagnosed with a simple physical exam and imaging studies. If you suspect a group, it’s essential to rule out systemic diseases, infections, and foreign bodies. In some cases, however, a tumor must be removed surgically for a definitive diagnosis.
Fine needle aspiration is useful for diagnostic purposes in many soft tissue lesions, including lymphoma, fibrosarcoma, osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, histiocytic sarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, and melanomas.
Surgical biopsy is required to definitively diagnose specific types of bumps or soft tissue tumors, such as lipoma, fibroma, mast cell tumor, hemangiopericytoma, neurofibroma, schwannoma, leiomyosarcoma, angioleiomyoma, myxofibrous tumor, and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans.
Treatment for Your Cat Skin Masses
Your vet will perform a physical exam to see if other problems are associated with the mass. They will also take x-rays to check for any underlying bone abnormalities.
Depending on the size and location of the mass, your vet may recommend surgery to remove it. Or they may suggest chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Surgical removal is often the first step in treating skin masses. Surgical removal is the treatment option; 30% of tumors of this kind return after surgery, and some spread to other organs. The goal is to prevent cancerous cells from spreading throughout the body. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used to kill off cancerous cells.
Prevention for Feline Skin Masses
Prevention is vital when it comes to skin masses in felines. One way to prevent skin masses is by ensuring that cats are up-to-date on their vaccinations and deworming andproviding monthly flea and tick control. As a result, indoor cats may be at a lower risk of exposure to external parasites which can lead to skin mass formation.
You should also regularly inspect your cat’s coat for signs of masses or other abnormalities, including mites, fleas, and ticks. Additionally, you should trim long hair around the neck and chest area on longer-haired cats to help prevent mats that can harbor bacteria and lead to skin disorders.
Finally, regular veterinary care is one of the best ways to prevent feline skin masses. Your vet can detect any early signs of cancerous tumor formation and biopsy any suspicious lumps or bumps for a definitive diagnosis. Early detection can be critical in successful treatment, so having your cat examined immediately if any changes are noticed is essential for prevention!
Frequently Asked Questions
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