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Ask a Vet: Could my cat's skin growth be cancerous?

March 29, 2010 |  1:26 pm

Have a non-emergency question about your pet's health? Dr. Heather Oxford of L.A. veterinary hospital California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) is here to help! In this installment of Ask a Vet, Dr. Oxford has some tips for reader Kristine about treating her cat's potentially cancerous skin growth.

Cat and vet Kristine's question: In advance, know that I will take my cat to the vet. My cat has a small, black, irregularly shaped mole on her flank. I discovered it when I was petting her, but I have never seen her "bother" it. Could it be skin cancer?

Heather Oxford, DVM: I am glad you will take your cat to the veterinarian because this growth should be examined. In cats, cancerous skin growths occur more frequently than non-cancerous growths. You and your veterinarian can check the eyes, mouth (way in the back and under the tongue) and anal areas for any other growths that could indicate a cancerous type. The area that this growth is in isn't a common one for cancerous growths, but the irregular shape and pigmented appearance you describe raise some flags.

It is a little easier to decide what to do if you know how quickly it is growing, but it sounds like you've only recently discovered it. If there is any other procedure that she needs, such as a dental cleaning, I would have it removed for biopsy at that time. If not, and depending on what your veterinarian thinks, monitoring for a short time frame is reasonable. Your veterinarian can measure it and note the appearance in the record for accurate comparison at each recheck.

To submit your question for Dr. Oxford, just leave a comment on this post or send us a tweet @LATunleashed and look for her answer in an upcoming installment of Ask a Vet!

About our vet: Dr. Oxford received her bachelor of science degree at Bowling Green State University, Ohio.  She also received a master's of public health degree in epidemiology from Emory University and went on to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. She then went to the University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine, where she received her doctor of veterinary medicine degree.  She practices at California Animal Rehabilitation and also is certified in veterinary rehabilitation and acupuncture. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Wade, and German shepherd, Tess.

Photo: A veterinarian holds a cat. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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