What is Larynx and Trachea Tumor?
Larynx and trachea tumors can generally be surgically removed and treated with radiation therapy. If the tumor is a lymphoma, it may be treated with chemotherapy. Pet owners who receive a diagnosis of a laryngeal or tracheal tumor for their cats can request a referral to a veterinary surgical specialist. Once there, the vet specialist will examine the cat and discuss the benefits of surgery.
Tumors of the larynx and trachea are rare in cats. Pet owners first notice something is wrong when the cat’s voice changes, or when they begin to avoid food and exercise.
Symptoms of Larynx and Trachea Tumor in Cats
Cats with tumors in the larynx or trachea develop symptoms of their illness, but those symptoms aren’t very clear-cut. The symptoms for tumors in both areas are similar. The vet will have to do several diagnostic tests to identify and locate tumors:
- Exercise avoidance
- Voice changes
- No longer purrs
- Loss of appetite
- Noisy and high-pitched breathing
- Labored breathing after exercise or when inhaling
- Breathing with mouth open
- Occasional retching, bringing up bloody discharge
- Mucous membranes are bluish in color
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sudden collapse
Causes of Larynx and Trachea Tumor in Cats
At this point, there are not very many known causes of laryngeal or tracheal tumors in cats. They are found more often in middle-aged and senior cats, with male cats being at higher risk than females of developing these masses.
Diagnosis of Larynx and Trachea Tumor in Cats
When the vet first sees the cat, based on the cat’s health history and symptoms they observe, they will order X-rays and take biopsy samples of the mass. The X-rays allow the vet to see the mass in the larynx or trachea, but these aren’t always necessary. Upon palpating the cat’s throat, they may easily feel the mass. A biopsy gives the vet more information, confirming a diagnosis of a tumor in the larynx or trachea.
After anesthetizing the cat, the vet can insert an endoscope into its throat, which enables them to see the tumor. As the vet is working on a diagnosis, they will rule out other conditions that cause cats to cough or develop upper airway blockages. One of these tests could be a bronchoscopy, which involves a tube being inserted through the cat’s mouth and down its windpipe. Once the bronchoscope has been put in place, a biopsy can be taken. A survey and contrast bronchography helps the vet determine the size of the tumor.
A wash of the tumor cells may result in a more firm diagnosis, but these can be misleading. Pet owners should be cautious about the results from a wash. In certain cases, the results are pretty clear.
Other diagnostic tests will be completed, including a complete blood count (CBC), urinalysis, biochemistry profile and platelet count. Fluid samples from the surrounding area of the throat and lymph nodes will be taken. If the mass is cancerous, the white blood cells will be abnormally high.
Treatment of Larynx and Trachea Tumor in Cats
Benign tumors can be surgically removed. Rhabdomyomas are found in the cat’s larynx and, once removed, the cat will be able to breathe and vocalize more easily.
If the cat’s tumor is cancerous, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are prescribed for the cat post-surgery. Depending on the type of tumor the cat was diagnosed with, it may need to take prescribed medications that help to improve its prognosis.
If the tumor was identified as a chondrosarcoma, it has to be removed, along with surrounding body tissues. Radiation therapy isn’t very effective in treating chondrosarcoma of the larynx or trachea.
Some, though not all tracheal tumors require a resection. If part of the trachea was removed, the two remaining ends will be stitched back together (anastomosis).
Recovery of Larynx and Trachea Tumor in Cats
Benign tumors, once they have been removed, should not come back, indicating the cat has an excellent prognosis. For cancers such as chondrosarcoma and squamous cell adenocarcinoma, the prognosis is not as good, even if the cat undergoes radiation therapy. The cat may live for a few months after diagnosis and treatment; its lifespan will not be very long even if treatment was successful.
If the cat was diagnosed with a lymphoma, its prognosis will rely on the type of chemotherapy that was prescribed, as well as the cat’s response to chemo.
Cat owners should provide their cats with a good, nutritious cat food, which helps the cat to recover and gain lost weight. Monitor the cat’s food and water intake, especially right after surgery. Some cats will need to have a feeding tube inserted into the stomach to ensure good nutritional support.
Post-surgery, the cat will be in pain, so giving prescribed pain medications will be necessary. A quiet, out-of-the-way spot where the cat can rest and nap aids good recovery. To reduce exertion, its food and water bowls and litter should be nearby.