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Repeat surgery? Cat with cancer

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  • Repeat surgery? Cat with cancer

    My cat has breast cancer. I found a small pea sized lump January of last year. I took her to the vet and waited 3 hours. They tried to aspirate it and told me the cells were mixed. Didn't recommend a course of treatment because they didn't know it was cancer. I had hoped it was benign.

    By September she had multiple lumps- we did surgery at a different vet. She came through the surgery with flying colors. Lost some weight but gained it back.

    Now she has another lump. I'm torn between doing surgery again or just letting her be. She seems playful and happy. I do not believe the cancer has spread yet- last we checked it wasn't in her lungs. The lump is may be an inch long so it wouldn't be difficult to remove.

    The prognosis isn't good- 1 year to live as of September, on average.

    But provided it is not yet in her lungs, would you repeat the surgery?

    ​​​I'm waiting for the vet to get back to me with an estimate. The surgery obviously wouldn't be curative but will keep her comfortable until it spreads. A couple stitches and 10 days in an E collar. Not a huge deal for her but it is expensive for me.

  • #2
    The cure is sometimes worse than the condition.
    If she's only got 6 more months 10 days of post surgical stress is a big chunk of her remaining time.
    Go, Baby, Go......
    Aefvue Farms Footing Inspector


    • #3
      My cat also has mammary carcinoma, and had surgery to remove tumors about a week ago (one very large tumor and a secondary smaller one).

      What happened in her case is that the tumor became ulcerated from her grooming it. (She's not a cat that likes to be handled/picked up so I have no idea how long the tumor was there--I found it when I saw blood on the couch.)

      I guess ulceration isn't uncommon with mammary tumors, so that's something to keep an eye on.

      My next steps are to consider a mastectomy on the other chain as a preventative, and/or consult with a veterinary oncologist. Given the size of her original tumor (>3 cm) I'm not sure if I will pursue either.

      Right now I'm leaning towards having a consult with a vet who specializes in complementary medicine to see what additional palliative options there are.


      • #4
        Are you in an area where you'd have access to a boarded oncologist? I think that is the best course of action if it's possible - they can give you the most current recommendations for treatment.


        • #5
          I've had three cats with it. The first one was younger, so they removed all of her mammary glands even thought there was only a lump in one. She lived a normal life with no further issues.

          Second cat (her sister) was also younger so we did the same, but hers came back with a vengence so we did nothing more and let her live her life until they became an issue...about 4 months.

          The third cat was older (15ish). They just removed the one lump and within six months a second one appeared. She passed away from heart failure before the tumor became an issue.

          If it was me and the lump reoccurred, I really don't think I'd do any more. I know it's an incredibly tough, sad decision but I'm just not sure it's worth it. My philosophy is "just because we can, doesn't always mean we should". Sometimes I think we go too far for both humans and animals. I lean toward the quality rather than the quantity of the time. But that's just me.


          • #6
            My husband and I took in a cat from a family member who was moving. It turned out they had never had her spayed and she had lumps along her abdomen, which they did not tell us. We took her to be spayed and had the chain of mammary tumors and glands removed. They left the other side alone. They wanted to send them out for analysis but I thought that was expensive and pointless. Either they don't come back or do they do. Either way we weren't doing another surgery- she was already 12. They came back within a year and when one started to ulcerate and she started acting uncomfortable we had her PTS.

            How old is the cat? Was the surgery at a specialty center or a general practicioner? I would consult with an oncologist before making a decision, if you haven't already. If the cat is young and the oncologist thinks it is isolated I would consider the surgery but have the whole chain on the other side removed. Otherwise you will likely be back here in a year.


            • Original Poster

              I'm taking her in tomorrow. Going to get more x rays of her lungs. If her lungs look okay i will discuss the surgery with the vet. Trying to come to a decision one way or another.

              She's a happy girl right now. I gave her a bowl of chicken for lunch and she chased the laser for 30 minutes yesterday. She seems very content. Her energy levels are good and she's eating everything i put in front of her.


              • Original Poster

                The vet (different vet from last time) said all his female cats had breast cancer and they are all doing well after having a double mastectomy. He gave me 2 quotes one for the mastectomy and one for the lump removal. He seemed to think a mastectomy is the way to go. He said they already removed most of one chain last time so we could remove the rest in one surgery.

                X rays and bloodwork are about $300 and $350 for the lump removal. $900 for the mastectomy. Not terrible prices but it is a gamble.

                Honestly, I'm not sure i feel comfortable doing a full masectomy. I'm not sure i feel comfortable doing nothing either.

                It is hard when you are emotionally attached. This is the cat who is immediately on my lap the minute I sit down. She comes when you whistle - none of my other cats do that. In fact, i would say she comes better than the dogs do.