Mast cells are a normal part of your feline’s body immune system: they are a kind of white blood cell. Sometimes, a mast cell can end up being a tumor, logically called a mast cell growth. There are two types:
- Those that impact the skin (cutaneous mast cell tumors)
- Those that affect internal organs (visceral mast cell growths)
Mast Cell Tumors Cats
Mast cell growths of the skin (cutaneous)
Approximately 20% of skin masses in felines are cutaneous mast cell tumors, and about 90% of those are benign. External skin mast cell tumors normally form on the head, neck and body, however can be anywhere. They are little, firm, raised, hairless and can become itchy. Some cats will cause self-trauma by itching and chewing during these flare-ups.
Mast cell tumors of internal organs (visceral)
As much as half of all mast cell tumors are visceral, and they most typically affect the spleen. They can likewise affect the intestinal tract. Visceral mast cell tumors can cause sleepiness, a decreased cravings, weight-loss or vomiting.
Is my feline at risk of mast cell tumors?
Any feline can be impacted by mast cell growths, however it seems more common in felines over 4 years of age. There is a higher occurrence in Siamese felines.
Detecting mast cell growths in felines
To detect a mast cell growth, a great needle aspiration (FNA) is usually performed. A small needle is placed into the mass, cells are extracted, put on a glass slide and evaluated under the microscope. This is called cytology.
For skin masses, sedation is not usually needed. For internal masses nevertheless, ultrasound guidance and sedation may be required to acquire a sample securely and painlessly. To determine the seriousness of the disease, blood work, an unique blood test (“buffy coat”), a bone marrow test, X-rays and/or an ultrasound of the belly might be advised.
Adjustment of mast cell tumors, for instance, when acquiring samples, can cause the release of chemicals (such as histamine) saved in the cells. This can cause all kinds of problems. To avoid these issues, your vet will likely offer an antihistamine medication prior to sample collection or tumor elimination.
Treating mast cell growths in felines
Surgery, followed by a biopsy, is the recommended treatment for both cutaneous and visceral mast cells growths. The majority of commonly, this needs removing a mass on the skin or eliminating the spleen.
Surgical recovery takes an average of 2-4 weeks of limited activity, confinement and a plastic cone (Elizabethan collar). Antibiotics, pain medications and antihistamines are continued at home. Extra treatment, such as chemotherapy, will depend on the biopsy results.
Cats with cutaneous mast cell tumors typically do effectively. The growths are not very likely to come back after surgery. It can be curative. A lot of cats live several years post surgery.
Felines with visceral mast cell growths frequently don’t have so great a result, however live approximately a year with “combination therapy,” (i.e. surgery, chemotherapy and encouraging care). Cats with a mast cell tumor in the spleen usually do far better than felines with a growth in the intestine. The outcome intensifies a lot more if spreading out or metastasis exists.
In general, mast cell growths in felines are “great” in the skin and “bad” in the belly. It is extremely important to work closely with your household vet, your surgeon and/or your oncologist to acquire the best possible result.
If your cat has a mast cell growth, here are some questions to ask:
- How do we determine if it’s benign or malignant?
- How do we make sure it hasn’t spread?
- What is the best treatment?
Also read: Hair Loss in Cats