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What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer will often begin subtly and then increase in seriousness, making early recognition and veterinary care a crucial part of your cat’s prognosis for long-term recovery.

Skin cancer in cats refers to a variety of types of malignant (cancerous) tumors that are found on your cat’s skin. Skin cancer is distinguished from other types of tumors, including non-malignant sebaceous cysts, as cancer can spread to surrounding bodily structures and cause damage to other cells and tissues. Skin cancer occurs more frequently in cats with shorter or thinner coats that have more exposure to the sun. Skin cancer can also have a hereditary component as cats with a relative with the condition have a greater chance of developing the disease.

Skin Cancer Average Cost

From 328 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

Symptoms of Skin Cancer in Cats

Symptoms of skin cancer in your cat will often begin very subtly. As the disease progresses, the signs will become more noticeable. Examining your cat regularly while petting will help in early identification and better long term treatment options. Signs to watch for include:

  • Redness or red patches of skin
  • Flaky or dry patches of skin
  • Itchiness in specific isolated areas of skin
  • Ulcers or lesions on skin
  • Open wounds that do not have an apparent injurious cause
  • Open wounds or sores that will not heal
  • Lump on the skin
  • Swelling in isolated areas

Types

While skin cancer refers to any number of cancers that affect the epidermis of your cat, there are several common types of skin cancer to watch out for.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Affecting the top or basal layer of skin and appearing along the head, neck, legs and chest, basal cell carcinomas are malignant tumors that increase in size and can spread to neighboring skin.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is one of the most common forms of skin cancer in cats. Tumors often occur around body openings and in areas exposed to the sun and rarely metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body.

Mast Cell Tumors

Small tumors with a distinct appearance of ulcerated, damaged or dead skin, mast cell tumors tend to occur on the legs and abdomen and can often spread quickly to other parts of the body.

Melanomas

Melanomas can be distinguished from other types of cancers by their color. These black or brown tumors can be found in numerous locations around your cat’s body.

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Causes of Skin Cancer in Cats

For some forms of skin cancer, the exact cause is unknown. However, there are several generally accepted causes for the most common types.

  • Long-term, repeated exposure to sun
  • Exposure to environmental toxins
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke
  • Hereditary predisposition
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Diagnosis of Skin Cancer in Cats

Diagnosis of skin cancer in your cat will begin during a thorough physical examination of your cat’s body. In some cases, identification and diagnosis may be made during routine veterinary visits. If you have previously identified the symptoms, you should make a particular note of any changes in the appearance of the skin or tumors. Timing growth or changes in shapes can help identify the type of skin cancer in your cat, as well as provide initial clues as to the severity and best course of treatment.

You veterinarian will next take several samples from your cat. These will include skin scrapings or samples of any ulcerated tissue or mole-like structures. Your veterinarian will also run a full blood panel and, depending on the severity of the condition, may also take a tissue sample from nearby lymph nodes to determine whether the cancer has spread. Finally, your veterinarian will want to perform imaging of your cat, such as chest x-rays or ultrasounds, to confirm that any cancer has not spread to other parts of the body.

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Treatment of Skin Cancer in Cats

The preferred method of treatment for skin cancer in your cat will almost always be removal of the tumor. In cases which the skin cancer is caught early, the tumors may be small and easily removed during a surgical procedure. Your cat will need to be admitted to the hospital and placed under anesthesia. Your vet will then carefully remove the affected tissue, being sure to obtain clean margins, or an area of uninfected, non-cancerous cells around the tumor, to ensure that cancer will not regrow.

In cases which the skin cancer has grown too large or has spread to other parts of the body and become inoperable, chemotherapy or radiation may be potential alternative treatment options. Chemotherapy will involve strong tumor fighting drugs being administered to your cat over several months. There may be side effects to chemotherapy, such as weight loss or loss of appetite. These side effects may be lessened by various medications prescribed by your vet.

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Recovery of Skin Cancer in Cats

Depending on the severity of your cat’s skin cancer, prognosis is very good for recovery. If the skin cancer was of a type that does not rapidly spread, removal of the tumor will provide a cure and allow your cat to have a normal, long and healthy life. It will be important to follow up with regular veterinary exams to ensure the cancer does not recur. You should also speak with your vet about preventative measures that can be taken to decrease or avoid sun exposure to your cat’s skin.

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Skin Cancer Average Cost

From 328 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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Skin Cancer Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Musky

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Norwegian forest cat

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Carcinoma

What can be done to help him. He has had a sore growing around his mouth, it’s getting bigger. I believe the cancer is rare we have tried various foods to try and help but no joy

Aug. 23, 2018

Musky's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Without seeing Musky, I don't have any way to determine if he has cancer, or another problem, such as an infection or immune condition. Foods don't typically help with those problems. It would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine him and see what might be going on, and how to treat him.

Aug. 23, 2018

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Iggy

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moggy

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Bump

I noticed my cat had a small smooth bump on the top of her nose just near the tip. She's a black and white cat, her nose is black and the bump is also black. I'm not sure how long it's been there, I think it's relatively new. We have 2 other cats so I don't know if she's had a hissy fit with one of them but she's normally pretty chill. We have a garden and she's been out in it a lot this summer, we've been having a Heatwave so I'm not sure if it's related. Thanks

July 21, 2018

Iggy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Many things may have caused that bump, and without seeing her, I'm not able to determine what the cause may be. If it isn't bothering her, it seems that it would be fine to keep an eye on it for any changes, and if it isn't improving or resolving, have her seen by your veterinarian, as they can see the bump and see what it may be.

July 22, 2018

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Miho

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American Short Hair

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Swallon
Swallon, Itch, Bleeding

My cat has basal cell carcinoma. She already had surgery once. It came back within 2 weeks and growing faster and spreading to her ear. What is best solution? My vet said next time she might need to remove her ear part but she need to go to specialist for that. Is it okay to remove her ear?

July 19, 2018

Miho's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Surgical removal is the treatment of choice for basal cell carcinoma and wide margins are recommended when removing the tumour; your Veterinarian may remove the pinna(e) of the ear or part of the canal if they determine it is a suitable course of action. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 19, 2018

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Mittens

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Black

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss
Itching
Scabs
Wounds

My cat Mittens has been having these open wounds on her head, back of tail and her back. We don’t know what they are but she itches them so hard she bleeds. She is an inside cat so we don’t think it’s fleas but we aren’t sure. She got the same thing last summer but it went away, it is back now. Any ideas on what she could have?

June 30, 2018

Mittens' Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Without examining Mittens, it is difficult to say what these lesions are; if she had them last year and have recurred this year, they may be due to a seasonal allergy. You should visit your Veterinarian for an examination and to confirm; however in the meantime ensure that any wounds are kept clean using a dilute antiseptic and try to prevent further itching. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 1, 2018

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Cuddles

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Mix

dog-age-icon

11 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

Skin Scab

My cat got a big round sore on her cheek under her eye the size of a dime it scabbed up gell off and heeled so i assumed our other cat had scratched he until a week later it was back this time bloody and deeper. Again heeled completely and tirned pink and the hair didnt grow back. This moring i look at her and even deeper there is a open wound is this cancer she seems to have lost wait but dont seem sick shes eating. I dont know

June 23, 2018

Cuddles' Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Without examining Cuddles, it is difficult to say what the specific cause is; there may be an infection, cancer, autoimmune disease or another cause for this repeated cycle. You should visit your Veterinarian to examine the current wound and the margins to determine the specific cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 24, 2018

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Thor

dog-breed-icon

Norwegian Forest

dog-age-icon

11 Years

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

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

None
Other Than These Lumps, Thor Is Asy

Thor, my rescue cat of 8 years, and who has FIV, has very recently developed many (maybe 40) small, soft lumps on his back and legs. I can feel the lumps, but there are no sores or visible changes in the skin.

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Tekir

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tabby

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Skin Crust
Skin Lump

Hi my 12 years old cat has thickened skin problem for 2 years. She has dark coloured thickened skin that bounds her movement such as jumping. She is not comfortable with that she does not want to be touched. Vet said that it was fungi so we tired some injections and shampoos. But none of them was helpful, it vanished slowly but happen over and over again. This time we have reddish wound like spots and i am suspecting cancer. I am looking forward to hear your comments. Thanks.

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Noodles

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Long haired

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

Skin Cancer

Hi, I've been concerned about my Noodles since September last year and took her to the vet immediately. Noodles had developed a small scab above her right eye and her ears were developing black speckles on them. Noodles is a 13 year old half Persian pure white cat. The vet I saw at the time said she had an allergy and gave her antibiotics and an allergy injection and I obviously had her treated for fleas, ticks and mites to be on the safe side. The scab on her head grew and grew and there was no change. I took Noodles back to the vets 5 weeks ago and the same vet did the exact same thing and said Noodles had probably just scratch the the scab but never said anything about her ears. My concern grew and I took her back to the vets yesterday and saw a different vet who gave me the devastating news that Noodles has skin cancer. I'm at logger heads with myself now because the treatment is so expensive and although I want to have her treated as a family we feel it's in humane to take her ears away and even if she is treated she may not get better so we want to just enjoy what time we have left with her. I just want someone to tell me the truth about her as the scab on her head is half the size of a 2 pence peice now and her ears are eroding and I dont want to pay a lot of money for nothing . I'm so lost and feel like I've been cheated of time because of another vets incompetence and I just need some advice

dog-name-icon

Snookie

dog-breed-icon

Burmese

dog-age-icon

8 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

Not Playful,
Not Playful, Distancing Herself

Hello, I am a fur parent of two senior cats. I have had Snookie (whom I am concerned about) she is approx 8 years old and my other cat I have had for 12 years. I have taken Snookie to the Vet twice already. I have spent quite a bit of money on her treatment already .The vet has put her on an antibiotic that lasts over two weeks and and also a special shampoo to help with her condition. She is and seems to be eating herself, she i long haired Burmese and I had adopted her from an abusive home. She has always been temperamental and mean at times, I just related her behavior to being abused and she is having flashbacks? Her skin and raw and she is losing her hair on a daily basis. She has sores around her mouth eyes and her stomach, her back her paws are raw and there are open soars everywhere. She is also warm to the touch and seems like anytime I pick her up sh is in pain. I have also noticed that my other cat Miles has been picking on her and being mean to her, he never was like that before with her. They used to play and be friendly. Now they do not cuddle or clean each other like they used to, and she also has a large bump on her back paw that I just noticed is getting bigger and more red too. I guess I am in denial about possibly something is more seriously wrong with her? The vet did a scraping of her skin, and she is an indoor cat and has never been outside either. Both Snookie and Miles are indoor cats. Please help any suggestions? Can I just ask the vet to do a blood work and test her for that? They are both fixed too so I have done everything I can to ke4ep them both healthy? Is it possible her breed doesn't live as long as other breeds? Please help concerned fur mommy, Diana

Skin Cancer Average Cost

From 328 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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