Eyelid Tumors in Cats

Feline Eyelid Tumors

Eyelid tumors are less common in cats than they are in dogs, and are more often malignant. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most frequent type of eyelid tumor in the cat. The prevalence of SCC is higher for white cats, especially for older, outdoor cats with prolonged sun exposure.

Lymphosarcoma and mast cell tumors (mastocytoma) are the next most common tumors that affect the feline eyelid. In certain animals, both tumor types may get smaller with medical therapy.

Eyelid tumor enlargement can interfere with proper eyelid blinking and cause irritation of the eye from rubbing of the tumor against the cornea (the clear surface of the eye). Conjunctivitis and eye discharge are common in cats with growing eyelid tumors.

Not all nodules or masses of the eyelids are tumors. Some fungal infections can form small nodules on the eyelids and certain types of inflammation may also mimic the appearance of eyelid tumors.

What to Watch For

Diagnosis of Eyelid Tumors in Cats

Veterinary care often includes diagnostic tests to determine the type of eyelid lesion and to direct subsequent treatment. Your veterinarian may recommend some of the following:

Treatment of Eyelid Tumors in Cats

Treatments for eyelid tumors may include one or more of the following:

Home Care and Prevention

If an eyelid nodule or swelling is observed, call your veterinarian promptly. Immediate evaluation of the eyelid lesion is very important if accompanying symptoms of ocular discomfort are observed, such as increased blinking, tearing and redness of the eye.

Gently wipe away any eye discharge with a warm moist cloth as needed to keep the eyelid clean. Do not allow the pet to rub or self-traumatize the eyelids. After diagnosis of an eyelid tumor, lubricating or antibiotic ointments may be prescribed until the time of surgical removal.

There is no preventive measures for most types of eyelid tumors. It is well known that squamous cell carcinoma develops more commonly in cats that have pink or white eyelids and are exposed on a regular basis to bright sunlight. Reducing sun exposure in these cats by keeping them indoors may help to reduce the risk of developing this type of tumor.

In-depth Information About Eyelid Tumors in Cats

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common type of eyelid tumor in the cat. The prevalence of SCC is higher for white cats, especially for older, outdoor cats with prolonged sun exposure. Local invasion of eyelid tissues by this tumor can be extensive, and metastasis, which is spread of the tumor to distant body sites, occurs in advanced stages of the disease. Multiple local treatment options are available when SCC is diagnosed in the early stages of disease.

Lymphosarcoma and mast cell tumors (mastocytomas) are the next most common tumors that affect the feline eyelid. Medical therapy is available for both tumor types and may induce regression of the tumor.

Other forms of malignant tumors that occur in the eyelids of cats include basal cell carcinoma, fibrosarcoma, neurofibrosarcoma and melanoma.

The most important aspect of treating eyelid tumors is to determine the specific tumor type and the degree of local invasiveness and/or spread to other parts of the body. These two factors are essential to determine the most appropriate therapy for each animal.

A few other eyelid conditions can mimic the symptoms similar to those observed with eyelid tumors. It is important to exclude these conditions before establishing a plan for treating the cat.

In-Depth Information about Diagnosis of Eyelid Tumors in Cats

Diagnostic tests are performed to determine the cause for the eyelid nodule/swelling, verify that the lesion is of a specific tumor type, define the degree of local invasion of the tumor and determine if the eyelid tumor will spread. The following tests are often recommended:

In-Depth Information about Treatment of Eyelid Tumors in Cats

With respect to treatment eyelid tumors may be divided into two types, those that can be managed with medicines and those that require surgery. Most eyelid tumors in cats require surgery, and the surgery may be followed by the application of certain topical medications.

In the early stages of eyelid tumor development, clinical evidence of eye discomfort or irritation is often not evident. Invariably, as eyelid tumors enlarge, they result in irritation to the surface of the eye and interfere with adequate blinking resulting in discharge. The ocular irritation caused by enlarging eyelid tumors may be difficult to treat medically until the eyelid tumor can be treated and removed surgically.

Medical Management

Surgical Management

Home Care for the Cat with Eyelid Tumors

Optimal treatment for your cat requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Most cats are sent home wearing an Elizabethan collar to prevent self-trauma to the surgery site. Follow-up visits are important, especially if recurrence of the eyelid tumors is a possibility. Administer all prescribed medication as directed. Alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your pet. If any signs of squinting or yellow-green infected discharge occur following the surgery, notify your veterinarian. Sutures are usually removed in 10-12 days after the surgery.

The risk of recurrence or re-growth of eyelid tumors after surgical removal is high for some eyelid tumors of cats. Malignant tumors have a higher risk of recurrence than do benign eyelid tumors. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment result in the best outcome. The chance of recurrence depends upon the type of tumor, whether or not chemotherapy effectively caused decrease in size of the tumor, the stage of tumor development at the time of surgery, and whether or not the entire tumor could be surgically removed.