Squamous Cell Carcinoma Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is a malignant tumor that develops from a cell type known as squamous cells, or keratinocytes. This is the primary type of cell found in the skin and the mucous membranes. As a result, squamous cell carcinoma is more commonly known as skin cancer. This disease affects both cats and dogs similarly, but despite its common roots, squamous cell carcinoma actually displays different characteristics between the two species.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Canines  Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common type of oral cancer in canines, and it accounts for approximately 5% of all canine skin tumors. The most common risk zones for SCC are within mouth, the tongue, tonsils, and gums. When the disease forms on a dog’s skin, it most commonly does so in areas that either lack hair, or areas that have a lack of pigment. The nailbeds are another common location for SCC to develop in canines. SCC can develop in any age or breed of dog, but those animals nine years or older tend to have the highest risk. As for breeds, Scottish Terriers, Boxers, Poodles, Pekingese, and Norwegian Elkhounds are predisposed to the disease, but breeds with white or piebald ventral coat and skin color, or naturally short coats, are most at risk for solar-induced SCC. The most common sign of SCC is a visible raised solitary tumor or lesion. The lesion is usually ulcerated and bleeds easily. The surface of the lesion has a bumpy, cauliflower-like appearance.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Felines Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the most common type of oral cancer and the fourth most common type of skin cancer in felines. Cats tend to develop SCC on the temples, at the outer tips of the ears, the tip of the nose, on the eyelids, and on the lips. When it forms in the mouth, the gums are most commonly the site of the tumor. Cats can also suffer from internal Squamous Cell Carcinoma, most commonly in the lungs or liver, but this type of SCC is rare. Like SCC in canines, this disease typically affects felines nine years of age or older. It develops in males and females equally, and it has no breed predilection – although white haired cats are thirteen-times more likely to develop skin cancer as a result of their elevated susceptibility to sun damage. The tumors on cats look similar to those found on dogs, with a single exception – about 45% of all affected cats tend to have more than one tumor at the site.

What to Do if You Detect Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Your Pet  If you notice a raised lesion on your cat or dog, then you should take them to the veterinarian immediately. While SCC is typically a locally invasive and slow-growing disease that is reasonably easy to treat, it is serious and needs to be addressed as early on as possible. The earlier the diagnosis, the better the prognosis. Diagnosis is usually made via a skin biopsy, but a veterinarian may also order blood tests, urinalysis, x-rays, and CT scans if the disease is believed to have spread.

How Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treated? Squamous cell carcinoma is treated in a variety of ways, with the method of choice being determined by the location and progression of the disease. In some cases, surgical removal of the lesion is recommended. In others, cryotherapy or electrosurgery may be utilized. Chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy are also commonly used to help prevent the spreading of the disease. After treatment, the pet will usually be in discomfort, so the veterinarian may prescribe pain medications. It is important to follow your veterinarian’s prescribed directions for administering the pain medication to avoid any risk of overdose. Diamondback Drugs offers a variety of pet-friendly formulations for treating SCC and for dealing with post-surgical discomfort.

How to Prevent Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Your Pet The most effective way to protect your pet from developing Squamous Cell Carcinoma is to minimize the amount of time they spend in direct sunlight, especially between the hours of 10am and 2pm. If your cat or dog likes to lie in the sun near a door or window, consider applying UV reflective film over the glass, or installing a window shade to help keep the UV rays out. Applying a small amount of sunblock to the tips of your cat’s ears and nose will also help to protect her while she’s outside. Author: Giano Panzarella