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Mast Cell Tumors in Cats

Treatment for Mast Cell Tumors in Cats from Your 

Toronto, ON, Veterinarian

Many pet owners have never heard of mast cell tumors.  When our veterinarian makes a diagnosis of this disorder, one of the first questions that owners often raise is whether these tumors are usually malignant or benign.  Understanding more about this condition and how Jane Animal Hospital in Toronto treats it can help reduce owner stress.

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Understanding Mast Cell Tumors in Cats

Mast cell tumors in cats take their name from the fact that they develop in the animal’s mast cells.  These cells arise in a cat’s bone marrow, but actually mature in peripheral tissue.

One job linked to mast cells is manufacturing several important chemicals, among them neutral proteases and histamine.  Every type of feline tissue contains some degree of mast cells.  However, the three places where they proliferate the most are in the skin, the respiratory tract, and the digestive tract.

Our veterinarian notes that these tumors represent around 20 percent of the feline skin masses we see. Fortunately, about 90 percent of mast cell tumors prove to be benign.  The growths are typically hairless, small, and raised and most often appear on the head, neck, or trunk.  Owners sometimes comment that they have observed their pets itching.

Up to half of these tumors are classified as visceral, most often affecting the cat’s spleen or intestines.  The growths are actually less common in cats than in dogs.

Treatment at Our Animal Hospital

Diagnosis of mast cell tumors usually occurs at our animal hospital after our veterinarian performs a fine needle aspiration of a growth.  Visceral masses sometimes require use of sedation and ultrasound in order to reach them.  However, most felines with skin tumors do not require any sedation.

For both visceral and skin tumors, the standard veterinary therapy is surgery followed by a biopsy.  The biopsy might reveal that the animal would benefit from chemotherapy. 

Our doctor notes that if the tumor proves malignant, the prognosis could vary significantly.  Two important factors to consider before deciding on treatment are where the tumors are growing and if they have metastasized at the time of surgery.

Schedule an Appointment with Our Toronto Veterinarian

At Jane Animal Hospital, we like to think of our Toronto practice as a veterinary clinic with heart.  We offer a full set of services for cats and other pets, ranging from wellness care to surgery, dental services, and nutritional and behavioral consultations.  Be sure to call us today at 416-762-5558 to schedule an appointment with our veterinarian and learn how we can help your pet achieve many years of health.


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