Published On: Thu, Aug 3rd, 2017

Cancer in cats: Will my cat's tumour return?

Q: My vet recently operated on a lump on my 10-year-old cat’s face. 

It was diagnosed as a basal cell tumour and the vet is confident that there will be no recurrence. How can he be so sure? 

A: Basal cell tumours are one of the most common skin tumours in cats. 

It is good that your vet sent off the tumour for identification by a pathologist as this gives certainty to the diagnosis. 

The pathologist will be able to not only identify the tumour as basal cell but will also be able to define hether it is benign or malignant. 

Basal cell tumours are almost always benign, which means that they won’t spread or return after successful surgery. 

The other investigation that pathologists do in these cases is to examine the edges of the surgically removed tumour to make sure no cancer cells have been left behind. 

They will report this as “clean margins”. 

Malignant tumour margins that are not clean represent a problem as it means that another more radical operation is often necessary. 

In your cat’s case the pathologist has made a diagnosis of a benign basal cell tumour with, judging by your vet’s confidence, clean margins. 

I agree with him that recurrence is very unlikely. 

David Grant MBE was a vet at the RSPCA Harmsworth Hospital for Animals. Write to him at Express Yourself, 10 Lower Thames Street, London EC3R 6EN. He is unable to enter into individual correspondence.

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