What are Eyelid Tumors?
Eyelid tumors are often cancerous, so the earlier you can get treatment for your cat, the better his chances are of recovering.
There are a number of different types of tumors that may form on a cat’s eyelid, but the most common is squamous cell carcinoma, followed by lymphosarcoma. These masses may form anywhere on the surface of the eyelid, and can range in size depending on the type of tumor. Although they may be hard to spot in the early stages, the tumors can begin to affect your cat’s vision and ability to blink over time.
Symptoms of Eyelid Tumors in Cats
When an eyelid tumor is small, it may be difficult for you to spot it on your cat, however as it grows larger, it becomes more obvious and starts to interfere with the cat’s blinking as well. Here are some of the symptoms of eyelid tumors you should be aware of:
- Eye redness
- Excessive blinking or squinting
- Eye bleeding
- Eye discharge, either mucus or pus
- Watering eyes
- Swelling or the noticeable formation of a lump on the cat’s eyelid
Causes of Eyelid Tumors in Cats
The exact cause of eyelid tumors is not very clear. Some of these tumors are cancerous, and could be caused by a variety of environmental and hereditary factors, while others are benign, and could be caused by trauma or genetic predisposition.
Eyelid tumors are much more common in older, white cats, especially if they live primarily outdoors and are constantly exposed to sunlight.
Diagnosis of Eyelid Tumors in Cats
Schedule an appointment with your cat’s vet as soon as you notice symptoms of an eyelid tumor. The vet will need to know when you first started to observe symptoms as well as information on your cat’s medical history.
The appointment will begin with an examination of your cat’s affected eye. A mass on the eyelid could also signal inflamed or infected tissue, so the vet will need to eliminate this possibility before making an official diagnosis. After looking at the eyelid, the cornea, and the conjunctiva, the vet may take a sample of skin scraping from around the eyelid to test for fungal infections. If discharge is present, the vet will perform a bacterial culture as well.
Basic tests, such as a complete blood count and biochemistry profile, will also be performed to get a better picture of your cat’s overall health. These tests will help the vet confirm whether your cat has an infection.
If the tests do not show signs of an infection, the vet should be able to eliminate this as a possible cause. Next, the vet will take a biopsy of the tumor to check for cancerous cells. Cats that have been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor may need to have X-rays or ultrasounds done on the chest and abdomen to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Treatment of Eyelid Tumors in Cats
In most cases, the tumor will need to be surgically removed from the cat’s eyelid. Once the tumor is removed, the vet will need to retest the tissue to determine if there are any cancerous cells remaining on the eyelid. It’s possible the tumor will grow back if the vet does not completely remove all of the cells from the eyelid. The entire eye may need to be removed in extreme cases when it is impossible to simply remove the tumor. This is common when the tumor has expanded into the eye or the tissue behind the eye.
If it is a squamous cell carcinoma or lymphosarcoma tumor, your cat may need to receive chemotherapy or radiation treatment if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Although it is rarely recommended, some non-cancerous tumors can be treated without surgery. Smaller tumors may be treated with corticosteroid injections, which will reduce the swelling and inflammation of the tissue. Other tumors may respond to cryotherapy, which involves freezing the tumor off instead of surgically removing it.
Recovery of Eyelid Tumors in Cats
If the tumor is non-cancerous, your cat will likely make a full recovery from the eyelid tumor, however recovery is not as certain if the tumor is cancerous.
Once your cat has been released into your care, you must ensure the eye area is kept as clean as possible. Use a clean, moist washcloth to remove any discharge that may come out of the eye during recovery. You should keep a close eye on your cat to ensure he does not irritate the eye by trying to itch or rub it. The vet may prescribe eye drops that you will have to administer to keep the eye moist and sterile while it heals.
Your cat’s vision may be temporarily affected by eyelid tumor treatment. Because of this, it’s important to keep him indoors to protect him from potential harm.
Eyelid Tumors Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Hello, I had noticed a few ago that my cat has a cut on his eye lid which underneath also has a lump too. The cut seemed to have green puss coming out of it. Is it worth leaving it a couple of days longer to clear up itself or shall I take him to the vets? Thanks!
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A stray kitten I found outside last night has a large red lump on the bottom of its eye. His eye waters a lot but it doesn't seem to be in pain. The lump is red and rather large, but isn't bigger than the eye. Will the vet be able to fix it? And how expensive would the surgery be to get it removed?
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I have a 14 year old male white cat who lived outside on 340 acres for 12 years until my in laws moved into a retirement community. He has been with me inside for 2 years. He developed a SCC eyelid tumor which was removed surgically in 11/2017. It recurred in 4/2018. The tumor, surrounding area and his eye were removed on 5/29/2018. It appears that the tumor has grown back in the area where his eye was located. The specialist, as always, is booked a month out. I love him very much and want to give him a chance, but don't want him to suffer. My husband is much more logical about these things and looks at the financial aspect. Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated. Read an retrospective study from Cornell that stated for these type tumors mean survival was 7.6 months. This tumor appears aggressive. Thank you for your help.
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