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What is Excise Mass of the Head and Neck?

Tumor excision of the head and neck is performed to remove masses or tumors located on the head, neck, eyes, or ear canal. Tumors of the head and neck most commonly affect older cats. Tumors may or may not be cancerous. Tumor excision is often one facet of treatment for cancerous masses; chemotherapy and radiation are usually also required for these cases.

Excise Mass of the Head and Neck Procedure in Cats

The exact procedure will vary based on the location and whether or not the tumor is benign or malignant. The surgeon may perform biopsy and other standard diagnostic tests to confirm cancer prior to surgery. The procedures for excising skin, eye, and ear tumors will be discussed here.

Excising Skin Tumors of the Head and Neck

  1. The cat will first be anesthetized.
  2. Vital signs will be carefully monitored throughout surgery.
  3. The surgeon will use a scalpel to remove the mass as well as a portion of the surrounding healthy tissue.
  4. If the tumor is large, reconstructive surgery may be required.
  5. The surgeon will ensure the entire mass has been removed before suturing the wound closed.
  6. Cats may or may not be hospitalized following surgery depending on the severity of the condition.

Excising Ocular Tumors

  1. If the cat is not in a stable condition, the cat will be stabilized prior to anesthetization and surgery.
  2. Standard testing will be performed to ensure metastatic disease is not also present.
  3. The cat will first be anesthetized.
  4. The surgeon may choose to use a diode laser to obliterate small ocular masses.
  5. For larger tumors, the eye is usually removed. This is a procedure known as enucleation.
  6. After the eye has been safely removed, the surgeon will trim excess tissue and remove tear glands to prevent post-operative tearing and infection.
  7. The wound will then be sutured shut in two layers.
  8. Cats will generally be hospitalized overnight to ensure postoperative hemorrhaging does not occur.

Excising Tumors of the Ear Canal

  1. The cat will first be anesthetized and vital signs will be monitored throughout surgery.
  2. The surgeon will use a scalpel and forceps to remove the ear canal.
  3. The surgeon will make an incision into the bulla, the middle part of the ear, to remove tumors or infected tissue.
  4. The surgeon may insert a drain if the cancer is considered severe, although this is not common.
  5. The surgeon will ensure all infected tissue has been removed from the bulla before suturing the wound closed.
  6. The initial entry site will then be sutured closed.
  7. Cats will then be hospitalized for at least 24 hours following surgery to recover.

Efficacy of Excise Mass of the Head and Neck in Cats

The efficacy of the excision will vary depending on whether or not the tumor is benign or malignant as well as where the tumor is located. Other treatment methods, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, may be required in addition to tumor excision to fully treat the condition. The prognosis for benign tumors following excision is generally considered fairer than the prognosis for excision of malignant tumors. Excision of benign tumors may be curative in some cases.

Excise Mass of the Head and Neck Recovery in Cats

Recovery will vary based on the severity of the condition treated. Owners should follow their veterinarian’s recovery instructions carefully. Analgesics and antibiotics may be administered to manage post-operative pain and prevent infection. Cats recovering from tumor excision should rest, not engaging in activity. Cats may need to wear bandages or an Elizabethan collar to protect the surgery site. 

Owners should check the surgery site daily to ensure no swelling, bleeding, or discharge is present. If owners notice any complications following surgery, they should consult their trusted veterinarian immediately. If chemotherapy or radiation treatment is required, the veterinarian will schedule follow-up appointments as needed to administer therapy. Follow-up appointments to monitor healing and remove sutures will be scheduled within two weeks following surgery.

Cost of Excise Mass of the Head and Neck in Cats

The cost of tumor excision of the head and neck in cats will vary based on whether the tumor is cancerous, where the tumor is located, and additional costs incurred, including medications, supportive care, and follow-up treatment. Tumor excision can range from $300 to $8,000.

Cat Excise Mass of the Head and Neck Considerations

Some types of malignant cancer, such as basal cell cancer, may not spread as quickly as other forms of cancer. The likelihood of recurrence will vary based on the location and type of cancer. Additional treatment is often needed for malignant tumors, making the efficacy of tumor excision more difficult to determine. Malignant tumors can recur even following excision and additional treatment. Vestibular syndrome can occur in some cats following total ear canal ablation. Cats may also have difficulty eating for the first two weeks following total ear canal ablation due to post-operative pain and inflammation.

Excise Mass of the Head and Neck Prevention in Cats

It is often difficult to prevent certain cancers in cats. However, owners can ensure their cats are not exposed to carcinogens such as cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, toxins, and skin irritants.