Mammary Cancer treatment recovery and prognosis

by Amy


My 10 year old cat Spot has been diagnosed with mammary cancer and I am struggling with the decision to treat the cancer. I want to have my cat with me as long as possible but I don't want her to suffer. She is scheduled for chemotherapy next week followed by a chain mastectomy in a couple weeks. I am worried about the recovery from surgery in particular. How much time do these incisions usually take to heal and how do the cats fare after surgery? I am also wondering what the prognosis will be; my oncologist said that we can hope for 1000 days. Do you think this is unrealistic? The tumor size was 2cm. Also, what happens after 1000 days? Does the cancer come back or will she die of other causes?

Thanks for any information,


Dear Amy,

I am very sorry to hear of your cat's cancer diagnosis. My thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

Your oncologist, being the most familiar with your cat's case and current condition, will be able to provide the best information and most clarity around your questions. In the meantime, however, I am happy to provide some general information about feline mammary cancer treatment.

The incision is the least of the concerns with mammary cancer. Your cat's mastectomy will actually be less invasive than even a spay surgery, as the surgeon will be operating just in the skin and not entering the abdomen. The incision usually heals very quickly, although your kitty may be discharged with some antibiotics to fight off infection. And because the surgery does not involve entry into the abdomen, there is usually minimal pain for the cat and whatever pain there may be can be alleviated with medication.

If her x-rays and bloodwork are okay and your kitty is otherwise healthy, and if your oncologist has indicated that the cancer has not metastasized to the lungs, 1000 days sounds like a great prognosis. Your oncologist is likely giving you a median range expectancy, suggesting that some cats will have a recurrence of the cancer before 1000 days, and some may have a recurrence long after or possibly never again. Of course, any number of things could cause harm to your kitty along the way, but in terms of the prognosis portion of her feline mammary cancer diagnosis, your oncologist is giving you what sounds like a promising prognosis.

All the best,
Dr. Neely

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