Mast Cell Tumor (Mastocytoma) in Cats
Your friendly feline can develop a skin mass known as a cutaneous mast cell tumor. About 1/5 of all skin masses are mast cell tumors, also known as mastocytomas. The majority of these mast cell tumors are benign, which means they do not actively harm your pet.
This tumor is made of mast cells, which are normal types of white blood cells. Occasionally, these cells can turn into tumors. A mast cell tumor is the most likely to form on the head, neck, and body but may form on any other body location. Although most of these growths may be benign, they can be itchy and cause your pet to scratch at them. You can recognize a cutaneous mast cell tumor by its round and hairless appearance. They feel firm to the touch.
It's also possible for your furry friend to develop a mast cell tumor in an internal organ. This is known as a visceral mast cell tumor. Our staff at Dessau Veterinary Clinic in Austin, TX, can diagnose and treat these mast cell tumors.
Diagnosing a Mast Cell Tumor
Your veterinarian can diagnose a mast cell tumor by inserting a small needle (fine needle aspiration) into the growth to remove cells that they will then examine. This procedure can be performed for both types of procedures; although, anesthetic might be used for visceral mast cell tumors even though it's not typically required for cutaneous mast cell tumors. It's also common for a vet to use anti-histamines when performing this procedure because mast cell tumors can release chemicals such as histamine from the cells when manipulated.
Blood tests, bone marrow tests, X-rays, and ultrasounds can all be used at the animal hospital to diagnose the extent of the mast cell tumor. Once your vet has confirmed the animal has a mast cell tumor, she may recommend surgery to remove it. The tumors can be removed from the skin. In some cases, your vet might remove the entire spleen if it has developed a mast cell tumor.
It's important to follow all the veterinary advice provided to ensure healing from surgery is successful. In some cases, surgical removal of cutaneous mast cell tumors is permanent removal. The prognosis is not quite as good for those pets that have visceral mast cell tumors. You can provide supportive care after the surgery, and your vet may recommend chemotherapy; however, tumors can spread or metastasize.
Get More Information
If you suspect your cat has a mast cell tumor, contact the Dessau Veterinary Clinic in Austin, TX, at (512) 339-3177 for more information or to schedule an appointment.