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What we know about squamous cell carcinoma in cats

Wypij JM. A naturally occurring feline model of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Patholog Res Int 2013;2013:502197. [free, full text article]

In this review article from Dr. Wypij of the University of Illinois, similarities between spontaneous feline oral squamous cell carcinoma (FOSCC) and human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) are discussed. Both cancers share similar tumor biology, clinical outcome, treatment, and a poor prognosis. They are locally invasive with low metastatic potential. They have similar causes (e.g., exposure to tobacco smoke, papillomavirus), aberrant molecular signalling pathways, and molecular aspects of cancer progression. Management strategies primarily involve surgery and radiation with adjuvant chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Little advances in treatment have been made in the past few years.

Most cats diagnosed with FOSCC are older (over 12yrs old), and are usually presented late in disease progression and thus are limited with respect to conventional treatment options. Cats have significant morbidity including oral pain, bad breath, oral infection, oral bleeding, decreased appetite and weight loss, difficulty grooming, drooling, and cancer cachexia. Most cats are euthanized due to local disease progression, severity of clinical signs, and poor quality of life. Median survival times are generally between 2-4 months, with a one-year survival of only 10%.

Owners of cats diagnosed with FOSCC are often motivated to seek standard or alternative cancer treatment. However, effective standards of care are non-existent for many companion animal cancers regarding opportunity for implementation of experimental therapies. Cats with FOSCC have a poor prognosis, and often the owner would be interested in pursuing novel diagnostic and therapeutic modalities because of potential benefit to the cat, benefit to other cats afflicted with the same disease, and translation to human patients with similar disease. Dr. Wypij argues that spontaneous animal tumors like FOSCC could serve as an important model, in this case for HNSCC, and could benefit both cat and human cancer patients. [GO]

See also:
Soltero-Rivera MM, Krick EL, Reiter AM, et al. Prevalence of regional and distant metastasis in cats with advanced oral squamous cell carcinoma: 49 cases (2005-2011). J Feline Med Surg 2014;16:164-169

Lewis JR, O’Brien TG, Skorupski KA, et al. Polyamine inhibitors for treatment of feline oral squamous cell carcinoma: a proof-of-concept study. J Vet Dent 2013;30:140-145.