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Everything you need to know about cat nose cancer

Close up nose of a cat advice
© Pixabay

It is fairly uncommon to discover cat nose cancer in our pets, although cats are at a higher risk of developing this terrible disease than dogs

By Dawn Parrish

What is cat nose cancer

Although not a common diagnosis in companion pets, felines are more likely to develop this disease than dogs. As the symptoms resemble those of feline respiratory infections, the correct diagnosis may be delayed. If you think that your pet may have some of the symptoms related to nose cancer, an immediate medical assessment is needed.

In both nasal and sinus cancers, abnormal cell growth develops in the sinus passages, nose cavity or tissue surrounding this location. Cancer cells can be either benign or malignant, the latter having the likelihood of spreading. In more severe cases, cancer cells can spread to the lymph nodes or brain tissue.

Symptoms of Cat Nose and Sinus cancer

The early symptoms of this disease are often very similar to a feline respiratory illness. Symptoms apparent early in the disease include sneezing, runny nose and stuffy nose. As the disease progresses and the cancer cells multiply, more severe symptoms might appear:

  • Nasal discharge and nosebleeds
  • Watery eyes and loss of vision
  • Facial or nasal swelling
  • No appetite, stomach upsets, weight loss
  • Panting or loud breathing noise, breathing through the mouth
  • Fainting or collapse, difficulty walking, circling around

Causes of cat nose cancer

As with many cancer diagnoses in small pets, it is difficult to determine the source of the problem. There are many causes why abnormal cell growth issues occur in the nose and sinus, either through bone, skin or lymphatic cells. Risk factors are elevated in older cats and for some reason, nose cancer affects male cats rather than females. Certainly, if the cat has a cancer elsewhere in his body, this increases the risk of it spreading to the nose. Passive smoke inhalation in the household, frequent or chronic infections and exposure to certain pollutants, poisons or chemicals, all are a hazard.

cat nose cancer
There are several symptoms of nose cancer, especially in older cats ©Pixabay
 

Diagnosis of cat nose and sinus cancer

Medical examination will take place in the first instance, with follow up tests to diagnose the extent of cancer. Standard X-ray and CT scans will divulge information but a tissue biopsy will definitely confirm cancerous cells. Other techniques that may be used are nasal flushing or trans-nostril aspiration.

Treatment options for cat nose cancer

In the first place, treatment will be centred on pain management and symptom control. Consideration will be given to the close proximity to vital organs, such as the brain, mouth and eyes. These may be damaged by the use of aggressive radiation or surgery.

The first choice of treatment for cat nose cancer is generally radiotherapy. This takes place over several weeks and is often given with chemotherapy. Unpleasant side effects are possible. These can be infection, pain and mouth ulcers. However, infection control, pain management and palliative care can all help your cat to cope with the various options. Temporary pain relief can be given in the form of medicated creams, anti-histamines, steroids and antibiotics.

The staff at the London Vet Clinic state that “Sometimes the best treatment is not to attempt to cure cancer but rather to regain a good quality of life for your pet, even if this means a shorter life expectancy. This is what palliative therapy is.”

Prognosis of cat nose and sinus cancers

Because the research into feline nasal cancer at this stage is quite sparse, the prognosis of quality of life after treatment is rarely documented. With treatment, survival time is certainly increased in some cases. Even more important is to remember the cat will need special care both during and after treatment. A stress-free environment and nutritious food are both high priorities. Likewise, lots of care and attention will only help the healing process.

cat nose cancer blood work Blood count tests to determine if your cat has nose cancer ©Pixabay
 

Just as with any feline cancers, early detection and diagnosis are of the utmost importance. Early detection improves the prognosis of a successful treatment.  In recent years, we no longer think of cats as just our pets. They are mostly considered to be part of the family. This change in role leads us to seek out better quality preventative treatments for our feline friends. Ultimately, it is the owner’s decision to choose the treatment to follow to help your cat. This is often a very difficult choice to make and to separate what you would prefer, rather than what will help your cat the most.