Mast Cell Tumor
What is a mast cell tumor? A mast cell tumor, also known as a mastocytoma, is a common type of tumor named for the type of cell that can develop on any part of the body. There are two forms of mast cell tumors in cats: a histiocytic type that appears as firm tumors directly under the skin and a mast cell type. The tumors are generally benign.
How does my cat get a mast cell tumor? It is unclear how mast cell tumors develop in cats.
How do I know if my cat has a mast cell tumor? Mast cell tumors are referred to as “the great pretenders” by veterinary oncologists because they take on three appearances: ulcerated skin mass, an accumulation of small firm lumps under the skin or wart-like nodules. They can be itchy or hairless. You may notice these tumors anywhere on your cat’s body, but they are more found on the head and neck. The diagnosis is confirmed by needle aspiration biopsy or frequently by a surgical biopsy.
What can I do about a mast cell tumor? Prognosis is good. In infrequent instances, these benign tumors go away on their own. Usually, surgical removal may be necessary. In those instances, a veterinarian may first administer antihistamines to protect against the effects of histamines being released from these tumors . Cryosurgery (freezing) may be employed to treat multiple recurring small tumors.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my cat from getting a mast cell tumor? Not really. Fortunately, mast cell tumors tend to be non-cancerous in cats.
Are there certain breeds that get more often? These types of tumors tend to be found in cats younger than 4 years old. In particular, the Siamese breed is prone to developing mast cell tumors.