Ear Cancer Average Cost

From 539 quotes ranging from $3,000 - 8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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What is Ear Cancer?

Ear canal tumors are most often found in the external ear canal and the outer ear. In rare cases, tumors can occur in the inner or middle ear. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is critical for the cat’s survival.

Two primary forms of cancer that affect the ears of cats are squamous cell carcinoma and ear canal tumors. Squamous cell carcinoma most commonly presents as a red, crusty areas around the ears. The sores, or ulcers, may occur intermittently and are usually flat, irregularly shaped and scaly. If the sores are noticed early enough and proper treatment is administered the prognosis is generally good. Unfortunately, the carcinoma is likely to reoccur after removal and may metastasize to other areas of the body. 

Symptoms of Ear Cancer in Cats

The primary symptom of squamous cell carcinoma is the presence of bleeding ulcers on the ears. In advanced stages, the tips of the ears may disappear, leaving a noticeable deformity.

Ear canal tumors usually cause symptoms on one side of the head only. Owners should look or the presence of one or more of the following:

  • Ear discharge (may be waxy, pus-filled, or bloody) 
  • Foul odor
  • Head shaking
  • Ear scratching
  • Swelling
  • Draining abscess below affected ear
  • Deafness

When tumors are located in the inner ear, affected cats may present additional symptoms including:

  • Loss of balance
  • Difficulty blinking
  • Other neurological problems or coordination 
  • Head tilt

Causes of Ear Cancer in Cats

Squamous cell carcinoma is most often caused by ultraviolet (UV) damage from excess sun exposure. It is most common in white cats with white ears. In rare cases, the condition can develop following severe burn damage. It is possible for squamous cell carcinoma to affect dark-colored cats or develop on areas that are covered by hair. This is the result of a disorder called Bowen’s disease that may be associated with the presence of a virus.

Tumors in the ear canal have not been definitively connected to a specific cause. Ongoing ear canal inflammation may cause the growth of abnormal cells that can develop into tumors. Cats with a history of ear infections tend to be more prone to this condition. Middle-aged or older cats are more likely to be affected than younger cats, and the tumors are more likely to be malignant than benign.

Diagnosis of Ear Cancer in Cats

The first step will be a full review of the cat’s medical history. Owners should make the vet aware of any sores that the cat has had in the recent past, even of other factors are thought to be to blame. The vet will perform a thorough physical exam to look for other sores on the body and will likely order common lab tests like a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and electrolyte panel. Enlarged lymph nodes or a high white blood cell count may indicate the presence of an infection. Chest and skull x-rays may be performed to check for tumors or other abnormalities. A biopsy can be performed to determine whether the tumor is a carcinoma, benign mass, or other skin condition. This is often done as a last resort as it typically requires general anesthesia.

If an inner-ear tumor is suspected, the vet may sedate the cat and complete a deep otoscopic examination. Other diagnostic methods may include CT scan, MRI, and biopsy. 

Treatment of Ear Cancer in Cats

Treatment recommendations will depend on the type of cancer, the size of the ulcers or tumor, and whether it has spread.

Treatment of Squamous Cell Carcinoma 

If only one small ulcer is present, the vet may freeze and remove it using cryosurgery. If the ulcer is large or multiple sores are present, traditional surgery will be required. The external area of the cat’s ear, called the pinna, is usually removed. In some cases, a portion of the ear canal may be removed as well. Cats are usually able to adapt to the change and heal fairly well following surgery. Chemotherapy is less effective than surgery, but may be recommended in cases where surgical removal is not an option. The vet may recommend a consultation with a veterinary cancer specialist for further treatment recommendations.

Treatment of Ear Canal Tumors 

When ear canal tumors are present, surgical removal is required. This is best performed by a board-certified surgical specialist, especially when the inner-ear is involved. The most common surgery is known as a total ear canal ablation (TECA). It involves the removal of the entire ear canal and a thorough cleaning of the inner ear. When surgery fails to remove the entire tumor, radiation may be used to slow tumor growth and minimize pain.

Recovery of Ear Cancer in Cats

Cats with squamous cell carcinoma should be kept indoors and out of the sun as much as possible. If the cat must be outside in the daytime, sunscreen should be applied to the ears and nose. For cats that enjoy sitting in windowsills, the addition of a reflector or shade will help to block UV rays. Owners should watch closely for the outbreak of new sores and follow up with a veterinarian if reoccurrence is suspected. If the treatment was administered quickly enough and the cancer has not spread, prognosis for cats with squamous cell carcinoma is generally positive.

Cats with ear canal tumors usually survive for about a year following aggressive surgery. If more conservative treatment options are elected, prognosis worsens significantly. Throughout the remainder of the cat’s life, regular veterinary check-ups will be necessary.

Ear Cancer Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Kittygoose
Cat
12 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Ear Discharge
Ear Itching

Medication Used

Ear drops

My cat has had an ongoing ear infection for about two years. I've been given pills that she refuses to take along with ear drops. About a month ago, a giant lump appeared on the side of her face, under the ear. I took her to the vet, and they were able to drain it and it was gone completely. A week later, they sedated her.. did a biopsy.. pulled a tooth (they didn't know if the lump was from an infected tooth or the ear).. and did a thorough cleaning of the ear while she was still sedated. They cut 3 polyps out. After all that, she was doing amazing. Her behavior is what it's always been and her ear was much better. I finally heard from the vet yesterday and they said she does have cancer. They never even told me what kind, I was rushed off the phone. All she said was cancer, she has 11 months to live, call us if you need anything, make her as comfortable as possible. Now I see that the lump they drained is coming back. It's not nearly as large as it was the first time, but it's enough for me to have noticed it when I touch her. Should I have the vet drain it and clean her ear again? Or is there really nothing I can do at this point, which is basically what the vet implied. Do I have a right to know exactly what the results of the biopsy said?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1184 Recommendations
You have every right to know what the results of the biopsy are; I would recommend visiting your Veterinarian and having a conversation with them about Kittygoose’s biopsy results, prognosis and the management options which you may have in front of you. There are different types of cancer and it is important to know which is present so that options can be explored in helping with what seems to be end of life care. This is a distressing time for you, so it is important to know what you want to ask your Veterinarian before you visit and even ask for a copy of the histopathology report (technically if you paid for it you own it). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Pi
American Shorthair
12 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Head scratching
Ear Lesion
Head Shaking
cancer
Rapid growing squamous cell carcinoma in ear canal

Medication Used

Derma-vet Ointment
Peroxide

My 12 yr. old
Tuxedo boy Pi, has confirmed Squamous Cell Carcinoma in his ear canal. There is not a vet/oncologist within a 300 mi radius & I have taken him to 3 vets for diagnosis. The last did a biopsy and confirmed. Since surgery/radiation/chemo are not available, I am doing the bare minimum, boiling it out with peroxide, and a topical ointment twice a day. It seems to be growing at an alarming rate. At first, you could not see it without a scope, now I can see it and it's spreading. This is breaking my heart.

My question: My other tom, licks Pi's ears. Could he become ill because of the cancer or the OT ointment? Is there anything else I can do to treat this myself. I'm on a fixed income and can't travel well.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1184 Recommendations

Whilst licking of the tumour shouldn’t affect your other cat, it would irritate the affected cat and topical ointments are not intended for internal consumption. One option is cryotherapy, but it can be awkward to get to and caution must be taken when attempting in the ear canal. Surgery is the method of choice unfortunately at this stage. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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pickles
moggy
15 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

crusty scaly raised "scabs (skin flakes are white

our white cat has had a bleeding crust on the back of her ear. i didn't realise what it was and have left it for a year. the vet today has said it is probably cancer and recommended surgery. Given that it has been on her ear so long and we do not have a large family income, how long would surgery likely give her, and what quality of life would she expect post surgery?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1184 Recommendations

The overall prognosis would be dependent on the type of cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common cancer on the ear of cats; they are locally invasive but slow to metastasise. Surgery would be the best option, if Pickles is suitable for surgery (after preoperative blood tests due to her age), quality of life post surgery should be good depending on spread etc...; otherwise other management options may be available depending on the type. Your Veterinarian will be able to advise you better. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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KITTY
DOMEST SHORT HAIR
14 APPROX
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

HEAD SHAKING, SCRATCHING, RUB BROWS, SCRACT MUZZLE

MY 14 YR OLD FEMALE DIABETIC (CONTROLLED WITH DIET) TUXEDO CAT HAS HAD CHRONIC 10 YEAR HISTORY OF EAR ISSUES. DIET AM. IS 1/2 CAN FANCY FEAST LOWEST CARB WET AND AT NIGHT ZERO CARB CAT KIBBLE. MANY MANY VET TRIPS AND STILL CAT HAS HEAD SHAKING, TILTING HEAD, MUCH SCRATCHING SCRUFF NECK AND MUZZLE AREA AND BEHIND EAR. SHE RUBBED BROW SO MUCH AND HAS OUTER SORE LITTLE BLOOD ON IT. NOTHING HAS HELPED. VET MOST RECENT OV SAID ONLY THING HE SEES A TINY BIT OF SWELLING AT BASE OF EAR DRUM. NO INFECTION. SHE SEEMS TO LOVE WHEN I USE A SOFT BRUSH AND RUB HER EARS AND SNOUT WITH IT, ANY SUGGESTIONS - SHE DOES NOT SEEM TO BE IN PAIN. JUST THIS CONSTANT SHAKING AND SCRATCHING.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1184 Recommendations

There are many possible causes including allergies, environmental irritants, irritation to cleaning detergents, infections, food intolerances, small foreign body in the ear canal, hormonal conditions (apart from diabetes) and other conditions. Intradermal allergy testing may indicate some possible causes, but administration of an antihistamine would alleviate symptoms if allergies were the cause. Otherwise, stopping her from scratching and treating any irritation or wounds to prevent further scratching. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Merry
Long hair grey white
16 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Red raw pussy oozy

merry has always had ear infections and has what now looks like a tumor in her ear. She keeps breaking open the front of the pussy looking nasty part. When that happens full out blood fiasco everywhere. The dogs keep her ears clean as do we with ear rinse. One vet told us at one point would just need to be cauterized?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1184 Recommendations

Tumours of the ear are common in cats especially as they age, squamous cell carcinomas are caused by excessive UV radiation overtime; the tumours lead to ulceration which can get infected which would explain the pus under the crust. Treatment options are removal of the ear lesions either by amputation or cryotherapy; the electrocautery (cauterisation) maybe part of partial amputation. Cryotherapy or removal would be treatment of choice but would need to be seriously considered given Merry’s age. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Bitty
Bengal
4 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Pink looking bubble, running discharge, itching,sh

What do tumors in a cats ear look like.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1184 Recommendations

Is the problem on the ear itself (pinna) or in the ear canal? Inside the ear, a tumour of the ceruminous glands (produces ear wax) can look pink with strange looking discharge. On the outer ear, squamous cell carcinoma s more common and can be pink with black crusts. Either way, it would be best to get Bitty to her Veterinarian so that a visual examination and possibly a biopsy taken to determine the cause and to either treat or remove depending on the primary cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Muffin
11 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Ear Lesion

hi my white cat has some dark marks on his ears , the vet suggested that we have the tips removed to prevent cancer in future. He says he doesn't have it currently. Is this necessary ? Also what cost would this normally be for the operation

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1184 Recommendations

It sounds like Muffin has the start of Squamous Cell Carcinoma which is common in white cats; it is a malignant and invasive tumour and early surgical removal is the treatment of choice, it is caused by excessive sun exposure. The cost of the surgery varies depending on your Veterinarian, location and severity; generally the surgery isn’t long and is quite simple so wouldn’t cost more than other surgeries that require opening a body cavity. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Toru
Not Sure
4 Years
Critical
Has Symptoms
Odor
Itching
Swelling
Head Tilt
My recently adopted cat Toru underwent an ear cancer surgery 1 year ago and at the time I knew nothing about him. He started wailing really loud a week ago and today I found out that there is smelly brown discharge coming from the ear that was operated on and took him to the vet. I got bad news - he has both bacterial and fungal outer ear infection in that ear. They gave me some eardrops to give him but my question is - is the infection somehow connected to the past surgery? If yes, will it be persistent? Could the wailing be caused by pain from the infection? He is also completely deaf. I know there is no hope but is there any way at all to make him hear again? The described symptoms are pre-surgery according to the previous owner. She also said that his cancer was spreading critically fast and two out of tree vets refused to perform the surgery on him because he was in a very poor state.