Feline Eye Cancer – Eyelid Tumors

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By Tess Thompson

Tumors form due to abnormal multiplication of cells and can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors are harmless and do not spread. Malignant tumors are progressive and characterized by an uncontrollable growth that metastasizes to other parts of the body.

Apart from the above mentioned properties, tumors can further be classified according to the category of the cells that they affect. Eyelid tumors are a less common type of feline cancer that mostly affects white-colored and older cats. They are also more prevalent among cats that remain outdoors in the sun for long periods of time.

Cancer in cats and dogs is a life-threatening condition that can originate in one part of the body and spread to the others. The issue with the condition is that the symptoms of cancer remain masked or hidden for a long time and surface when it is too late. The symptoms of liver cancer in dogs can remain hidden for a long time since they can be incorrectly diagnosed as digestive problems or parasitic infections.

Eyelid tumors, on the other hand, are usually visible to the naked eye and can be treated in their initial stages. Eyelid tumors should not be confused with nodules or masses that form due fungal infections and inflammations on the eyelid. Cat owners should watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Formation of a mass on the surface of the eyelid or eyelid margin
  • Ulceration or abnormal redness in eyes or in the area around eyelids
  • Discharge of pus or bleeding from the eyes
  • Excessive tears
  • Frequent rubbing, blinking or squinting of eyes
  • Exophthalmos, a protrusion of the eyeball from the socket

Diagnostic procedures for eyelid tumors are different from other types of feline cancer. Apart from blood tests, serum biochemistry, ophthalmic examination and a biopsy, your veterinarian may also advise some specific tests such as these:

  • Fluorescein staining of the cornea - the use of a dye to color specimens for microscopic study
  • A complete bacterial culture of the secretions from the eyes
  • Cytological examination of fluid aspirated from the tumor or scrapings from around the eyelid

Treatment options for eyelid tumors depend upon the size they have grown to. Small tumors involve surgical removal. The remaining portion of the eyelid is sutured. Some typical small sized tumors respond to chemotherapy.

Another option that can be used as treatment for mast cell tumors is cryotherapy. Cryotherapy is the application of extreme cold to the affected area to destroy the deceased tissue. If large tumors encroach upon the surrounding tissue a complete removal of the eyeball may be required.

Preventing cancer is a difficult proposition. Eyelid tumors can be prevented and diagnosed earlier since they have marked physical symptoms that can be noticed early. An early treatment can save you a lot of worry and expense. At the same time, it will ensure a healthy and comfortable long life for your pet.


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