Nose and Sinus Cancer in Cats

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Nose and Sinus Cancer in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Nose and Sinus Cancer in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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.

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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

dog-name-icon

My Cat

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Calico DSH

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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53 found helpful

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53 found helpful

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

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4 found helpful

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4 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Nausea
Eye Discharge
Breathing Difficulty

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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4 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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Nose and Sinus Cancer Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$6,500

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