Oral (mouth) Tumours in Cats

By far, the most common form of oral tumour  found in cats is Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Others which occur only rarely are Epulis, Fibrosarcoma and Lymphosarcoma.  There are conditions which might be confused with a tumour.  These are intra oral abscess, granulation tissue and eosinophilic granuloma.

Squamous Cell Carcinomas are usually found on the underside of the tongue but can also be found near the tonsils or on the gum line. The symptoms of tumours and other oral diseases are salivation, oral haemorrhage and inability or difficulty in eating.  All of these are often accompanied by bad breath and sometimes distortion of the face.

In order to make an accurate diagnosis it is necessary to surgically obtain some tissue (biopsy) and send it to a pathology laboratory for microscopic examination and identification of the tissue (histology). To obtain the tissue from a suspected tumour it is necessary to anaesthetize the patient so a small piece of the tissue can be surgically removed and sent to the pathologist.  It may also be necessary to do an X- Ray film is any bone involvement suspected.

Treatment of oral squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue has never been successful.  Tumours on the mandible (lower jaw bone) can sometimes be treated by partial removal of the jaw bone.  For other tumours, it may be possible to treat them with chemotherapy or radiation depending on which type they are.

Some of the terminology surrounding tumours can be confusing.  Tumour generally means neoplasm but can also mean any swelling.  Neoplasm literally means new growth of tissue in which cell multiplication is uncontrolled and progressive.  The term cancer encompasses a group of neoplastic diseases in which there is a transformation of normal body cells into malignant ones (Bailliere’s Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary).

If you suspect that your feline has any oral issues, especially any type of growth, we encourage you to contact our Calgary cat hospital right away. Our doctors are eager to ensure that you have nothing to worry about!