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What is Nose and Sinus Cancer?

Nose and sinus cancers are considered fairly rare in cats and other companion animals. Cats are at a higher risk of developing this type of cancer than dogs. Symptoms may be very similar to a respiratory infection and may not appear severe until cancer has entered a late stage. Any animal exhibiting signs of nose and sinus cancer should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Nose and sinus cancer is a condition in which abnormal cell growth occurs in the nasal cavity, sinus passages, or surrounding tissues. Cancer cells can be malignant and have the potential to spread, or they may be benign. In either case, medical intervention is often necessary to remove and properly treat the tumor. Although most nose and sinus cancers found in cats are malignant, they are less likely to spread than cancer found in other parts of the body. The most likely location for nose and sinus cancer to spread is to the brain or lymph nodes.

Nose and Sinus Cancer Average Cost

From 336 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$6,500

Symptoms of Nose and Sinus Cancer in Cats

When cancerous cells or tumors are present in the nasal cavities or sinus passages, the symptoms often mimic those of a respiratory infection. Common early symptoms will include nasal stuffiness, runny nose, and sneezing, which can all be linked to many common and minor illnesses. As the cancer progresses and the cells spread or grow, the severity of the symptoms will increase, making them more obvious. Symptoms can affect the nose, sinuses, eyes, face, and brain. 

Symptoms include:

  • Runny nose or nasal discharge
  • Nosebleeds
  • Watery eyes or ocular discharge
  • Sneezing or snorting
  • Snoring
  • Bad breath
  • Bulging eyes
  • Vision problems or vision loss
  • Nasal or facial swelling or deformity
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Loud breathing
  • Mouth breathing or panting
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Collapse or fainting
  • Facial pain and related vocalizations
  • Behavior changes
  • Circling, difficulty walking, or confusion
  • Seizures 

Types

There are various types of cancer that can be found in the nose and sinuses. For cats, lymphomas and carcinomas are the most common forms of nasal or sinus cancer. Sinus and nose cancers tend to be malignant. Types of nose and sinus cancer found in cats include:

  • Adenoma
  • Basal cell tumor 
  • Carcinoma
  • Chondrosarcoma
  • Fibroma
  • Lymphoma
  • Melanoma
  • Meningioma
  • Plasmacytoma
  • Sarcoma
  • Squamous cell tumor
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Causes of Nose and Sinus Cancer in Cats

Like many cancers occurring in cats and other companion animals, the exact cause of nose and sinus cancer is unknown. Cancer occurs due to abnormal cell growth, and nose and sinus cancer is no different. It can be caused by skin, lymphatic, bone, or other types of cells. Risk factors that may increase the likelihood of sinus or nose cancer in cats include:

  • Age – more likely to develop in older cats
  • Sex – male cats are affected almost twice as often
  • Urban dwelling
  • Exposure to pollutants
  • Exposure to certain chemicals or poisons
  • Chronic or frequent infections
  • Living in a home with a smoker
  • Presence of cancer elsewhere in the body
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Diagnosis of Nose and Sinus Cancer in Cats

Early diagnosis has been shown to improve survival rates, but the similarities between the symptoms of nose and sinus cancer and other infections can delay diagnosis. Be prepared to discuss your cat’s full medical history, any symptoms you have observed, and the timeline and frequency of those symptoms. If symptoms have been ongoing, this is often a sign that a more serious issue could be the cause. Your veterinarian will conduct a full physical exam and take samples of blood, urine, and any nasal or ocular discharge. Cultures to search for infections will be completed on these samples in addition to standard laboratory testing. 

A urinalysis and blood analysis for complete blood count, biochemistry profile, electrolyte panel, and clotting ability are also standard. If cancer is suspected, diagnostic imaging techniques will generally be used to confirm the diagnosis. X-rays of the chest, head, and face will help identify tumors or suspicious cells. More in-depth imaging may also be used, including CT scans or rhinoscopy, in which the nasal passages or viewed from the inside with a tool called an endoscope. Exploratory surgery or tissue biopsy may also be used to verify the type of cancer and determine if it is malignant or benign. 

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Treatment of Nose and Sinus Cancer in Cats

The veterinary recommendation for treatment will vary depending on the type, location, size, and spread of the cancer. In some cases, treatment may not be an option, and the prognosis will be poor. It is quite common for nose and sinus cancer to require a multi-pronged treatment approach, as a combination of methods has been shown to be more effective than any single treatment option. Some common therapies for nose and sinus cancer in cats include:

Surgical Intervention

Surgery to remove the tumor may be required. This treatment method is fairly effective on its own but is often combined with other treatments to ensure all the cancerous cells are removed or destroyed. Surgical intervention carries a moderate risk of complications or side effects. Your pet will require hospitalization post-surgery for observation during recovery. 

Radiation Therapy 

Treatment with radiation is the most common and effective method for treating nose and sinus cancer. Radiation therapy is often combined with surgical treatments to improve the cat’s prognosis. Treatment may last several weeks or months. 

Chemotherapy 

This common cancer treatment in humans is being used more and more frequently for animals. Chemotherapy is also used to target and eradicate cancerous cells and prevent further growth. This therapy may also last several weeks or months. 

Photodynamic Therapy 

A cancer treatment that uses light therapy has shown some effectiveness in some types of nose and sinus cancer but has been less effective with others, including sarcomas. 

Antibiotics 

Your cat may be prescribed antibiotics if a secondary infection is present. This treatment carries a low risk but requires proper dosing to ensure effectiveness and reduce the risk of side effects. 

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Recovery of Nose and Sinus Cancer in Cats

The prognosis for nose and sinus cancer is generally poor to fair. Most cancers of the nasal cavity or sinus passages are malignant, and the possibility of the cancer spreading to the brain increases the mortality rate. During and after treatment your pet will require special care. Nutritious food, fresh water, and litter should be kept nearby as your pet may be weak. Avoid making changes to the living environment and take effort to reduce stress. Your pet will need plenty of love and attention until it is feeling better. Be sure to follow all of your veterinarian’s instructions, including those related to dosing of medications and returning for any necessary follow-up visits. 

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Nose and Sinus Cancer Average Cost

From 336 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$6,500

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Nose and Sinus Cancer Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

My Cat

dog-breed-icon

Calico DSH

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing

My 8 year old cat had a biopsy of a growth protruding slightly from her nostril. The biopsy confirmed that it is cancer. I know that it is terminal and there has been some invasion of her sinus cavities. She has sneezing episodes that last for less than a minute, but are increasing in frequency. I have been giving her Meloxicam for inflammation. I have Buprenorphine on hand for pain if needed. How do I know if her sneezing is painful. She is playing, eating, drinking and eliminating normally. I don't want her to suffer and am giving her the highest quality of life I can. How can I tell if she is in pain. I don't want to put her to sleep to soon, nor too late. She was sneezing for several months, and treated for respiratory issues prior to the cancer diagnosis. So, it has been present for at least 7 months or so. She seeks me out to cuddle much more than she used to.k

Sept. 2, 2018

My Cat's Owner

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Leo

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

One Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Breathing Difficulty
Eye Discharge
Nausea

Does my cat have something in his nose? There is a lump from sneezing. No discharge came out and it hurts him when I touch it. He is only one year old and often his breathing is difficult for him. He does have a food intolerance.

July 31, 2018

Leo's Owner

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0 Recommendations

If Leo has breathing difficulties you should visit your Veterinarian regardless especially since I cannot determine the cause for the lump or sneezing without examining him first; it is possible that there is something in his nose (foreign object, polyp etc…) or allergies, chemical irritation among other causes. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 31, 2018

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Felicia

dog-breed-icon

Short haired domestic

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Cough
Cough And Laboured Breathing

My cat was put in a cat cage to go to the animal hospital before we moved but she hit her nose on the cage door several times and made and her nose broke the skin which started bleeding. This happened in March this year and although I have been to the cats and got various creams on my visit last week they said she had a car sink a of the nasal and took and X-ray and a swab of the nose. They said it has not gone inside yet but she had muscus on her chest and gave me medicine to help. The said the swab showed bad cells, but how can my cat hit her nose and now have cancer. She is black and white and 11 and a half years old. Should I get another opinion as I love her dearly. She also is weeping from one eye, the side of the trauma and her breathing is a little laboured. Eats well.

July 25, 2018

Felicia's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

I'm a little confused by what is happening with Felicia, and it is difficult to say what might be happening without seeing her. If you aren't sure of the diagnosis for her, it never hurts to have a second opinion, and more information is never a bad thing.

July 25, 2018

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Gracie

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Calico

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking Head
Sneezin
Scratching Ears

Our little Gracie has been slinging her head and sneezing. This is followed up with scratching her ears, watery eyes. The doctor placed her on Clavamox (one tab every 12 hours, 62.5mg). The first day (07/20/2018), it seemed to help but, now she is back to doing the same thing. Only difference is that she no longer has watery eyes. I called my vet and they tell me that it has not been long enough and to continue. It is now 07/25/2018. By this time I would have expected things to get better rather than continue and wait. When she does blow snot, thankfully it is clear and she no longer has the watery eyes. Gracie is also on Gabapentin for a slight shaking of her head and has been on it for several months. She gets one dose a day of 1/2 ml. Three years ago, we had our little Maggie (another cat) diagnosed with terminal nasal cancer and I am terrified of Gracie getting this. Maggie started out the same way and by the time the vets stopped experimenting with her (kept treating her for allergies) it was too late.

July 25, 2018

Gracie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Gracie would be very young to develop nasal cancer, but it isn't impossible. If she isn't improving over these 5 days, it would be a good idea to have her rechecked to see if more is going on, and having skull xrays might help to rule out a growth or cancerous problem.

July 25, 2018

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Sean

dog-breed-icon

Ginger mix

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Rasping Rough Breathing.

Hello. Sean is a ginger male cat and had cancer of his nose removed surgically about 5 years ago. He is fine, except that his breathing remains rasping. It would seem to be a chronic condition by now. Actually, I think he got Snuffles one year, recovered, but the rasping breath continues. Please can you advise. Thank you

July 21, 2018

Sean's Owner

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0 Recommendations

There are various causes for raspy breathing in cats which may be made worse by surgery and other factors; infections, allergies, laryngeal disorders, asthma, other cancer among other causes may be contributing to the raspy breathing. Given Sean’s history you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to narrow in on the specific cause of the raspy breathing. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 22, 2018

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Pudge

dog-breed-icon

short hair

dog-age-icon

15 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulties

Hi there, I have a 15-year-old cat named Pudge. He has Been back-and-forth to the vet a couple of times these past couple of weeks. He has developed a horrible breathing sound and is having a rough time trying to breathe. The last vet that I took him to said that the only way to be able to tell would be through an x-ray and she advised against it because of his age and his problems with breathing. She said that it may kill him. This was last week and he is on prednisone and anabiotic’s but his breathing is getting worse. He also will not eat cat food and I have tried canned food. He eats a little bit here and there but turns away from it. I believe it is hard for him to swallow. I give him milk and he will drink it sometimes. I just feel I’m going to have to make that decision but I don’t want to stress him out on a 20 minute car ride to take him in to have him put to sleep.. I wish there was something I could do for him, radiation or something!

dog-name-icon

Chanel

dog-breed-icon

Persian

dog-age-icon

15 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Slight Nose Bleeds, Very Nasal Soun

My cat had it two years ago... now she is 15.. Had it removed the first time.. then year later came back.. would not do radiation small cat to begin with .. so went on prednisolone as the symptoms started to develop again. After a year lost a little weight.. went on Rebound and she gained all her weight back and I also do Vet Acupuncture once a week.. They start 1 appt for three weeks then go to once a month. I know it's not evasive and I know it doesn't hurt seeing I have it done for arthritis and give me relief. Hoping others might try it....

dog-name-icon

Onyx

dog-breed-icon

mixed

dog-age-icon

17 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

He Was Recently Prescribed Enroflox

Beloved cat, Onyx, is a 17 yr. old male domestic shorthair who has suffered with chronic, upper respiratory issues for most of his life. He has tested pos for Herpes, and the congestion that arises from what appears to be secondary infection is sometimes so severe, I've taken him to emergency clinics in respiratory distress. He sees his vet regularly, and we had been treating his symptoms with some success using oral antibiotics over the years, but they seem to have stopped working. Recent x-rays have shown a nearly complete blockage of his left nasal cavity, causing him to struggle for breath and produce loud inhalations and snoring. A sedated exam (mostly) ruled out esophageal/palette polyps. There were no obvious signs of dental abscess or other issues. He is now on oral steroids to help with inflammation, but it's not really working. His blood counts are surprisingly "okay", and he's still eating/drinking, though not a lot. The only options left are to see a specialist and subject him to torturous tests and procedures, or to watch him carefully and wait until he "tells" me it's time to go. I've walked this path with many of my animals companions, and it never, ever gets "easier"...

dog-name-icon

pooh

dog-breed-icon

Orange tabby

dog-age-icon

15 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Difficulty Breathing
Bloody Nose

one day my cat showed up with a bloody, cut nose. he lived outside most of his life so we didn’t really know he had anything wrong, we only thought he cut his nose and it would heal latter on. it never healed and actually got worse, deepening into the nose and making him sneeze blood and making it hard for him to breathe. when we moved he finally became an inside cat and we saw that it was difficult for him to eat without making his nose bleed so we had to feed him wet food so that he could actually eat. we decided to take him to the vet. they said he had a cancer that commonly attacked the nose and ears. it was too late to help him because he had had it so long so we had to make the hard decision to put him down. he had lived a great life and we knew it was the right decision so he would be in anymore pain.

dog-name-icon

Papa

dog-breed-icon

Unknown

dog-age-icon

13 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

My cat has been breathing and snoring loudly for about 5 weeks. I chest x ray was negative, and a fungal test was also negative. Tried antibiotics for 1 month with no improvement. Now on steroids, but no improvement. Very loud breathing when he walks. Loud snoring.

Nose and Sinus Cancer Average Cost

From 336 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$6,500

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