Feline Ear Tumors
Ear tumors are growths associated with the ear. The most common include squamous cell carcinoma, ceruminous gland adenoma or adenocarcinoma, sebaceous gland tumor and basal cell tumor.
Depending on the tumor type there may or may not be an underlying cause. Chronic inflammation may predispose to tumor formation and prolonged sunlight exposure may predispose certain tumors.
Ceruminous gland adenocarcinoma. These tumors are seen most commonly in middle-aged to older cats with light colored fur or skin and occurs after exposure to sunlight.
Basal cell tumor. These tumors generally affect middle aged to older cats and are most common in Siamese cats.
Sebaceous gland tumors. They are more common in middle-aged to older dogs than cats, with no sex predilection.
What to Watch For
Early in the illness, many individuals are have no clinical signs, and tumors are often incidental findings.
Skin changes on the ear
Crusts, ulcers or proliferative (excessive growth) tissue
Large growths filling the ear canal
Vestibular (balance) signs
Diagnosis of Ear Tumors in Cats
Baseline tests, to include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemical profile, and urinalysis, are usually within normal limits.
Thoracic (chest) radiographs (X-rays) should be taken to rule out lung metastasis (spread).
Skull radiographs may be helpful in evaluating invasiveness or surrounding tissue involvement of tumors associated with the ear canal.
CT scan may be helpful in accessing extent of tumor and is necessary prior to radiation therapy.
Biopsy is necessary for a definitive diagnosis.
Treatment of Ear Tumors in Cats
The treatment depends on the tumor type, size, and location. Surgical resection or removal is the treatment of choice.
Surgical debulking, in which as much of the tumor as possible is removed
Cryosurgery, which is destruction of tissue by application of extreme cold
Hyperthermia, which is destruction of tissue by application of extreme heat
Radiation therapy in large or incompletely excised masses (ceruminous gland adenocarcinoma)
Home Care and Prevention
Follow all instructions given to you by your veterinarian. If your pet has a recurrence of signs, contact your veterinarian at once. Prognosis varies depending on the type, location, size, and ability to remove the tumor surgically.
Limit sun exposure to prevent squamous cell carcinomas and address chronic ear problems promptly, as inflammation may predispose to cancer.