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Basal Cell Tumors in Cats

The most frequently observed tumors in cats are those that affect the skin or are located just beneath it. Our veterinarians in Lebanon provide a detailed discussion about basal cell tumors in cats, including their diagnosis and treatment options.

What are basal cell tumors in cats?

Basal cells in cats are a type of cell found in the sweat glands, hair follicles, or sebaceous glands. They create the basal layer of the epidermis, which is the outer layer of the skin. When these cells start dividing uncontrollably, it can lead to the formation of an abnormal growth or mass known as a basal cell tumor. The basal layer of the skin contains various types of cells, including those responsible for inflammation, which play an essential role in the overall defense of the epidermis.

Most of the tumors diagnosed by our vets are basal cell tumors. If a cat is diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, this is a type of basal cell tumor that is cancerous or malignant. Fortunately, only a small percentage of diagnosed basal cell tumors are cancerous, and they are most commonly seen in senior cats.

What causes basal cell tumors in cats?

Although the exact cause of cancer or tumors in cats and pets is not yet known, several factors contribute to their development. These factors include environmental conditions and genetic predisposition. Certain breeds of pets are also more susceptible to certain types of cancers than others.

How are basal cell tumors in cats diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will begin by examining the presented signs and symptoms.

  • A firm, hairless raised mass
  • Varying size of the mass
  • Cystic or ulcerate masses
  • Pigmentation of the mass

If your vet suspects that your pet has a tumor, they will typically perform a procedure called fine-needle aspiration (FNA). This involves retrieving a small sample of cells from the mass and examining it under a microscope. In some cases, the results of FNA may be inconclusive, or further testing may be required. In such instances, your local vet may perform a biopsy, extracting a small tissue sample for examination. This process is known as histopathology and can help your vet determine the nature of the tumor and if it's malignant or benign.

What are the treatment options for basal cell tumors in cats?

If your cat has been diagnosed with basal cell tumors or carcinomas, the most effective treatment option is usually surgery. This will help lower the risk of any secondary complications, especially if the tumor is cystic or ulcerated, which could lead to infections. Although rare, there is a slight possibility that the tumor could reoccur at the surgical site, but the chances of this happening are low.

How long can cats live with these basal cell tumors?

Cats that receive early treatment for basal cell tumors tend to have a positive prognosis. The individual results of cats treated for basal cell tumors depend on several factors, including how early the condition was detected and treated, how aggressive it was when found, your cat's response to treatment, and whether it spread beyond its original site. However, in general, cats who receive early treatment have a better chance of long-term survival.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Does your cat have a suspicious lump on or under its skin? Book an appointment with our Lebanon vets to have your cat examined.

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