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Squamous Cell Carcinoma


Cats are very prone to squamous cell carcinoma as they spend far more time outdoors than other pets. The areas most commonly affected are the ear flaps or pinnae, the nose and the eyelids.

Initially the damage to the skin will show as a pink area with perhaps some crusting and hairloss.

However, continued exposure will lead to more serious scaling of the skin.

If this is not treated and the cat is not protected from the sun, then a serious skin condition called squamous cell carcinoma can develop. This is a malignant tumour which will spread locally, destroying the surrounding tissue.

It can also occasionally spread to other parts of the body such as the lymph node or lungs. Bleeding and crusting from the earflap lesions can be a major problem in some cats.

As the condition gets more serious the skin looks very red and there may be ulcerated areas with raised hardened edges on the ears, eyelids, nose, lips and face.


Treatment


Treatment will depend on the severity of the condition. If skin damage is only minor then it is better that you simply keep the cat in during the hottest part of the day in the summer.

Some cats will allow a child's sunblock cream (or pet's sunblock cream) applied to the ear tips, however, most cats will groom it off fairly quickly. Older cats with lack of pigment or pink ear tips are also more likely to get feline squamous cell carcinoma, generally after eleven years of age.

In severe cases, surgery is the best option to remove the cancer before it spreads in the body.

Removing ear flaps may affect the look of the cat, but it can be done fairly easily and cats adapt well to this surgery. If the problem is on the eyelid or nose then surgery can be much more difficult. Cryosurgery can be used in these cases.