Nasal Cancers Frequently Asked Questions

Unfortunately, nasal cancers occur fairly commonly in older catsand very rarely in youngcats.
Most nasal cancers tend to grow just within the nose, but they can be very invasive. They are often slow growing over months. Symptoms can include sneezing, snoring, noisy breathing, snotty nose (mucous), facial deformity and bleeding.
Possible cancer types include the following:Lymphoma: this is one of the most common cancers diagnosed and is a cancer of a type of white blood cell called a lymphocyte. Lymphoma can occur just in the nose, or in other parts of the body–anywhere lymphoid cells are found. Carcinoma: this is one of the more common cancers diagnosed. Squamous cell carcinomas and undifferentiated carcinomas and adenocarcinomas are different tumor types. Most tend to be locally very aggressive but do not spread to other areas that commonly. Others: other cancer types can be seen such as mast cell tumors, and melanoma. Sometimes fungal diseases such as Cryptococcus or Aspergillus can appear similar to cancer
The diagnosis of which cancer is present is made based on a combination of imaging findings (e.g. CT, rhinoscopy, x - ray) and tissue biopsy samples that are examined in the laboratory. A CT scan allows highly detailed anatomic information of the nose, sinuses, brain and structures ar ound the eyes. Rhinoscopy involves insertion of small, specialised cameras into the nasal cavity and targeted biopsies can be obtained of abnormal tissues

Unfortunately, treatment options for nasal cancers are fairly limited. Nasal lymphoma can show a good response to either chemotherapy or radiation treatment or both. Other cancers such as carcinomas can show a response to radiation, but symptoms and disease will often recur.

Radiation therapy is the treatment of choice for non-lymphoma nasal tumors. Treatment protocols vary but generally are delivered weekly or twice weekly. Possible side effects include inflammation of the tissues of the mouth and eyes, blindness, and cataract formation. Radiation treatment is only offered at a limited number of facilities.

Chemotherapy is used mainly to treat nasal lymphoma and uses a combination of tablets and injections. Ideally, it is given with radiation treatment for lymphoma. Chemotherapy for carcinomas can also be considered, however, there is not as much information available on survival. In one case report, a cat survived for approximately 21 months, however, survival times are often shorter.

Surgery is rarely performed as it does not improve survival and the tumors are very invasive into the surrounding tissues.

Palliative treatment
Sometimes palliative treatment plans can be developed for cats to help keep them comfortable. This could involve the following: Pain relief Antibiotics Appetite stimulants Nebulisation to help with nasal secretions

The long term prognosis for cats with nasal cancer depends on the type of cancer present. With no treatment, survival times are often poor for cats already showing symptoms.
The average survival time for cats with cancers other than lymphoma, that received radiation treatment (definitive radiation treatment) was approximately 12 months, with 16% of cats still alive after 2 years. Another study using palliat ive radiation treatment found that most cats showed an improvement (86%) and their overall survival time was approximately 1 year.
For cats with nasal lymphoma treated with radiation and chemotherapy, the survival time was approximately 2.6 years.
As nasal cancers progress, cats can sometimes develop problems with breathing. The cancer can also invade into nearby structures such as the brain or eyes causing neurological deterioration, blindness, or facial deformities.
cat with a nasal cancer

This is a CT from a cat with a nasal cancer. It shows a lot of destruction of the normal bones of the nose (right side)

Lymphoma on biopsy

This image shows a mass in the back of the nose - this was diagnosed as lymphoma on biopsy. 


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