Foot or Toe Cancer Average Cost

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Average Cost


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What is Foot or Toe Cancer?

When a cat presents with unexplained lumps or lesions, a veterinary examination is recommended. If the symptoms are linked to the presence of cancer, early diagnosis and proper treatment are critical to the likelihood of survival.

The presence a tumor on the nail bed is a rare condition in cats. More commonly, tumors appear on the feet after having metastasized from other areas of the body. The two most common types of tumors found on the foot are squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanocytic tumors.

Squamous cell carcinoma affects the cells that create the lining of the inner cavities of the body and outermost layer of the skin, known as the epithelium. SCC is often malignant and invasive. There is a high chance that it will return after removal and is likely to metastasize to other parts of the body. The cancer progresses slowly, increasing the chance of a positive outcome if found early. Unfortunately, by the time tumors appear on the feet they have often already spread from other areas of the body.

Melanocytic tumors develop from the cells responsible for producing pigment (melanocytes) and melanin (melanoblasts). The tumors may present as spots, patches, masses that are either flat or raised. The tumors may be either benign or cancerous.

Symptoms of Foot or Toe Cancer in Cats

When tumors are present in the nail bed, it is likely that the affected nail will be broken or missing. The nail bed is often infected and the bone may have deteriorated. Nail bed tumors are often misdiagnosed as osteomyelitis (bone inflammation) or a simple nail infection. Severe weight loss is also common due to both a lack of appetite and changes to the metabolism related to the presence of cancer.

Squamous cell carcinoma often starts off as a small lump (nodule) or a blister-like lesion (papule). As it progresses, it grows and loses its mass-like shape. Eventually, the tissue begins to die (necrotize) and tumor ulcerates. Additional symptoms of SCC include:

  • Swelling of feet or toes
  • Limping
  • Bleeding sores on toes 
  • Sores or tumors on other body parts

Melanocytic tumors are most commonly found on the head, ears, nose and toes. Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Lesions (with or without pigment)
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lung cancer 
  • Limping (if spread to limbs)

Causes of Foot or Toe Cancer in Cats

Squamous cell carcinoma is rarely found on the feet of cats unless it has metastasized from other body parts. It can affect cats of any breed or age. 

Melanocytic tumors are most common in cats between eight and 14 years of age. No known cause has been identified.

Diagnosis of Foot or Toe Cancer in Cats

Prior to completing a physical exam, the treating veterinarian will review the cat’s medical history. Owners should discuss with the vet any sores or lumps that have been noticed previously, even if they are thought to have been caused by other circumstances. 

The vet will examine the cat’s entire body to look for additional sores and tumors, and will check lymph nodes for swelling. The lymph fluid may be tested for the presence of cancerous cells, and a standard set of lab tests will likely be ordered. A biochemistry profile may be used to check the levels of white blood cells and confirm whether bodily organs are functioning correctly. Chest x-rays will identify any lung abnormalities, and x-rays of the affected foot will help to determine the depth of the tumor and the extent of bone damage. Each ulcer or mass on the body should be tested using either a fine-needle aspiration or a tissue biopsy to determine whether cancerous cells are present.

Treatment of Foot or Toe Cancer in Cats

Treatment recommendations will vary depending on the number and severity of the tumors and whether they have metastasized. 

Single Tumor

When a tumor is present on only one toe, surgery is recommended. A full amputation of the toe will provide the best prognosis for a full recovery without recurrence. Cats quickly adapt to the loss of a toe and are usually able to walk normally once they have recovered.

Multiple Tumors

When multiple tumors are present, surgery may not be a viable option. The veterinarian will likely prescribe pain medications to keep the cat comfortable and may recommend a consultation with a veterinary oncologist to discuss further options.

Melanocytic Tumors

For melanocytic tumors, surgery is the primary treatment recommendation. If the tumors are benign, the outlook for affected cats is very positive. If surgery is not an option or the tumor has spread to other areas of the body, radiation or chemotherapy may be recommended.

Recovery of Foot or Toe Cancer in Cats

When a toe has been removed, cats will usually experience limping and mild pain immediately following surgery. This can be controlled with medication and will subside as the foot heals. The cat should be kept indoors and activity should be limited until it has fully recovered. If the tumor has not metastasized, the prognosis for recovery is very positive.

It’s common for cats with cancer to experience ongoing pain. Owners should carefully observe the animal for signs of distress and proactively manage pain whenever possible. Proper nutrition is also critical for the cat to maintain the strength it needs to recover. It should be fed a high-quality, balanced diet. If the cat refuses to eat or displays other symptoms that may indicate that the cancer has returned, an immediate trip to the vet is recommended. 

As is the case with most tumors, the chance of recurrence is high. Depending on the veterinarian’s recommendation, the pet may need to be re-examined every three to 24 months.

Foot or Toe Cancer Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Domestic short hair cat
9 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Lethargy, smells

Hi there my cat is a DSH.. the emergency vet looked at a large lump on her ankle—malignant tumor) (she went from hiding to not walking.. had to take food to her under the couch).. her paw on her other foot began bleeding from the nail beds (filled with malignant tumors as well) ... they were going to amputate but they said it was beginning to form in her front too.. I couldn’t afford an ultrasound but they did a bone aspiration and x rays and they said her lungs looked a little misformed as well as her bones in her feet. She referred me to an oncologist because she said it’s an atypical cancer in atypical places. I can’t make this cat suffer any more.. what are the chances of other treatments helping?

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tom tom
hybird shirazi
5 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

swell feet and toe
blood with white substance
lots of bleeding and random cuts

iam not sure what is happening with my cat one day he just came home and his foot was swell a little bit . not long after it started getting worse and worse . 3 days ago his foot randomly started bleeding it wasnt just blood there was some white substance mixed with the blood , we help him and cleaned the wound and it look as if was better but the next day his toes were swell and there was another wound on the lower part of his feet and now there is yet another cut between his fingers ,only one feet is injured, iam so worried i cant take him to a vet since there is non where i live . iam looking everywhere for help please if someone can help . iam really worried about him

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10 Years
Serious condition
-1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Inappetance, lethargic, vomiting
Inappetance, lethargic, hiding
Inappetance, lethargic
Inappetance, lethar

My Mom's cat, a 10-year-old DSH, had a toe amputated about 3 weeks ago because of a tumor near the nail bed. She did not get a biopsy. Frisky went home & seemed normal for a couple of days. Then she became more reluctant to eat, moving her head from side to side as if painful. When the doctor examined her she didn't find any problems in her mouth but said the tonsils looked inflamed. She also noticed another mass on the adjacent toe. She gave her an injection of dexamethasone, DepoMedrol and Onsior, and sent home Buprenex. My Mom's other cat was just euthanized about a month ago, so she's having a difficult time with this. I was thinking it could be mct, possibly the visceral form since she's not eating or squamous cell? Her appetite was normal before the surgery. Blood work and chest rads were normal.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3318 Recommendations
It is always best to have histopathology done on any mass removed to identify the specific type of mass so that additional care and follow up can be more effective; I cannot diagnose what the mass was but regular check ups should be done to be on the safe side. If there is another mass forming, this should be taken for histopathology to confirm a diagnosis. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Maine Coon
13 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Was limping. large lump on back leg

My cat was diagnosed with bone cancer in her back foot after I noticed she was limping badly and they found a lump on her foot which I thought came from hitting it on something after jumping off the bed. (They did an xray and a biopsy)They want to amputate her leg. She is no longer limping and seems to be fine now. How do I know that the diagnosis was correct? Could she still be having pain even though she is not limping?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3318 Recommendations
Whether or not Misty is feeling pain, it doesn’t change that fact that cancer was found with the biopsy (rarely wrong if checked by a board certified Oncologist or Pathologist). Amputation would be the best course of action regardless in this case. Cats are stoic animals and may not always show their pain so it can be difficult to make the statement ‘she isn’t in pain’. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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domestic short hair
3 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Paw Swelling

Hello! My name is Ashton and my cat's name is Oliver. I've been taking Oliver into the vet for regular checks ups and bandage changes for over a month now. Unfortunately, I do not qualify for pet insurance and each visit is coming out of pocket. I am not to the point where I can no longer afford the regular bandage changes. They have been changing it every 3 days and applying Neo Predef for the swelling. The swelling has gone down but they are still concerned with a discharge of the affected area. At first the mass on his paw was misdiagnosed as an abrasion. I was given Onsior and told to leave it alone. The mass began to grow and ruptured, leading to an emergency ER visit where I was told it was a cyst. They have not biopsied or even recommended treatment moving forward. They have been consistently changing the bandage. They will not tell me the name of the topical steroid being used on his paw or give me at home care instructions. I can't afford the $90 office visit every three days any more and I'm not sure how to help my cat.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3318 Recommendations
There are a few different topical products which they may be using on Oliver’s paw, but since Oliver is your cat and you are paying for treatment you have a right to know what they are using to treat Oliver and may also request copies of his medical records as well. Depending on the size of the wound and any secondary infection, different approaches would be taken; bathing with a dilute antiseptic would most likely be done whilst changing the dressing. Request Oliver’s medical notes and see what is happening. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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I don't know
8 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Decreased Appetite
Weight Loss

My cat has a tumor in her lung, and has spread to her toes in one paw. My vet says that at this stage, there isn't much that can be done because the cancer has spread throughout her body and bloodstream. She says even with a surgery with a specialist, results will most likely not be positive. One of her recommendations is to consider having my cat put down, but I am searching for a second opinion.
Thank you.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1608 Recommendations
Without being able to examine Noodles, I can't give you a valid opinion, unfortunately. If you are not sure of the diagnosis and are looking for other treatment options, it is never a bad idea to seek a second opinion from another veterinarian, and you can take any x-rays and lab work with you so that they have more information. I'm sorry that that is happening to her, and hope that you are able to find options.

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