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Tonsil Cancer (Squamous Cell Carcinoma) in Cats

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Surgery may be used to perform an aggressive excision of the tonsils and affected tissue. However, most patients at the time of diagnosis are inoperable, either because of the location of the tumor, or the extent to which it has spread before its effects have been observed.


Removal of the affected lymph nodes may be conducted to prevent further spreading of cancerous cells, but it seldom provides a permanent cure. Radiotherapy may also be used in some patients, but its success has not been satisfactorily confirmed, so it is seldom used for these patients.


In cases where it is possible to operate and remove most of the affected area, the tumor and affected lymph nodes will be removed, and the surgery will be followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy to prevent or slow down the spread of cancerous cells to other areas of the body.


Living and Management


Good nutritional support is essential in these patients for ensuring maintenance of body weight and condition. It is important to monitor your cat's food and water intake while it is recovering. After surgery, your cat will very likely not have much of an appetite, and will not want to eat or drink in great quantities. It may be necessary to temporarily use a feeding tube. In these cases you veterinarian will show you how to use the feeding tube correctly (placing it directly into the cat's stomach), and will assist you in setting up a feeding schedule.


After surgery, you should expect your cat to feel sore. To minimize discomfort, your veterinarian will provide you with pain medication for your cat. In addition, you will need to set up an area in the house where your cat can rest comfortably and quietly, away from other pets, active children, and busy entryways. Setting the cat litter box and food dishes close by will enable your cat to continue to care for itself normally, without exerting itself unduly. Use pain medications with caution and follow all directions carefully; one of the most preventable accidents with pets is overdose of medication.


Overall prognosis in affected animals is poor due to the aggressive nature of this tumor and frequency of metastasis to other body locations. Even with treatment, overall survival time generally is not more than several months. The decision to go forward with surgery or chemical therapy will be based on the actual prognosis. In some cases, end of life pain management may be in order. 



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