Overview of Feline Mast Cell Tumors
Mast cell tumors, also called mastocytomas, arise most commonly in the skin. They develop from a normal component of body tissues called the mast cell that play a role in the process of tissue repair by releasing inflammatory mediators.
Mast cell tumors rarely affect the skin of cats, although it is the most common site for dogs. Malignant mast cell tumors in cats usually involve the intestine or spleen, and the spleen can become dramatically enlarged. Malignant mast cell tumors can spread to the lymph nodes, spleen, liver and bone marrow.
The cause of mast cell tumors is unknown. Mast cell tumors have been transmitted experimentally using tumor extracts suggesting possible viral origin, but this hypothesis remains unproven.
Among cats, the Siamese breed may be more commonly affected. Males and females are affected equally.
Mast cell tumors in the skin of cats usually are benign and can be managed effectively by simple surgical excision. Some mast cell tumors in young Siamese cats may even spontaneously regress in time without any treatment.
What to Watch For
Diagnosis of Mast Cell Tumors in Cats
Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize mast cell tumors and exclude other diseases that may cause similar symptoms. Tests may include:
Treatment of Mast Cell Tumors in Cats
Treatment for mast cell tumors may include one or more of the following:
Home Care and Prevention
Your cat should be examined by a veterinarian if you notice any mass on his skin. A fine needle aspirate or surgical biopsy can be performed to identify the nature of the mass. Most skin tumors in cats are benign, but early detection and treatment of malignant tumors, especially mast cell tumors, can dramatically affect your pet’s long-term prognosis.
No method of protection against development of mast cell tumors can be recommended because the cause of these tumors is unknown. Careful monitoring of your pet is important, especially if you have one of the breeds known to be at increased risk. If you notice a lump in your pet’s skin, the mass should be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
In-depth Information on Mast Cell Tumors in Cats
Mast cell tumors or mastocytomas arise most commonly in the skin. They develop from a normal component of body tissues called the mast cell, which normally play a role in the process of tissue repair by releasing inflammatory mediators.
Mast cell tumors vary greatly in their biological behavior. Some mast cell tumors remain localized for extended periods of time, but others invade local areas causing much inflammation, and they eventually metastasize or spread to distant sites in the body. Malignant mast cell tumors can spread to the lymph nodes, spleen, liver and bone marrow.
Mast cell tumors rarely affect the skin of cats as they do in dogs. Malignant mast cell tumors in cats usually involve the intestine or spleen. The spleen of a cat with a splenic mast cell tumor can become dramatically enlarged.
Mast cell tumors occur as one of three types:
This classification refers to how closely the mast cells of the tumor resemble normal mast cells and ultimately to the biological behavior of the tumor or its tendency to remain localized or spread throughout the body.