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C2003-34

Dear Christopher Cat

My cat looks like a one-humped camel. The vet thinks the mass over her shoulder blades is cancer, but he recommends against removing it unless it bothers her. Other than the hump, she seems perfectly normal.

I thought tumors should be removed early, before they spread. Would you explain?

Christopher Responds

Sometimes surgery is of little help, and this may be such a case.

Your veterinarian probably suspects your cat has fibrosarcoma, a particularly invasive cancer in cats.

Fibrosarcoma is so aggressive that it invades up to 22 nearby muscles and even the bones of the spine. It would be nearly impossible to remove the tumor completely without causing your cat an enormous amount of pain.
To make matters worse, more than 70 percent of excised fibrosarcomas recur.

Therefore, veterinarians often recommend just debulking the “hump” if it gets so large that it becomes bothersome.

The other option is an aggressive treatment strategy involving major surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. If you decide to pursue this option, you can begin now.

Fibrosarcoma shouldn’t be confused with a granuloma, a tiny nodule that sometimes develops shortly after vaccination and usually disappears within a few months. Cats who develop granulomas are not at increased risk of fibrosarcoma.

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