A few days ago my 9 year old female cat, who I adore, was diagnosed with mammary cancer. I am unemployed at the moment so took her to a local cat charity for treatment.
Other lumps were detected by the vet on further mammary glands apart from the large and very nasty looking one on her upper mammary gland which I had noticed.
The tumour is discharging a brownish fluid and sometimes small ammounts of blood. The prognosis was not good, I was advised that it could possibly be weeks not months.
Shocked, I read up on the disease on the internet and read that for a cat with a tumour over 3cm the post operative life expectancy can be 6 mths and that it could have spread to her lungs and lymph nodes.
When I took Cleo back for her return appointment, I asked if they would consider an operation to remove the mammary glands and they said they would if I wanted to go ahead. I am now in a quandry and want to do the best thing for Cleo herself, I would not want to put her through the trauma of an operation if it would not neccessarily add to her life expectancy, however I feel that with it, she may have another 6 mths.
While I realise they are very busy and overstretched and appreciate the help they are providing, I don't think I've been provided with enough insight with which to make an informed decision as to whether to go ahead.(The article I read was very technical)
Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated
Cleo is very beautiful and looks so sweet. I am very sorry for your news.
I think the best answer for you, in a nutshell, is the answer based on my experience. While the statistics you read in books or on the internet are not very encouraging, that has not been my experience.
As far as the surgical procedure goes, it is recommended that even if just one mammary gland is involved, the whole chain on that side should be removed.
You did not say if only one side is affected or if the multiple lumps involve both sides. Irregardless, I would suggest in your case that both chains (left side and right side) be removed, but that it be done in 2 separate operations. Obviously, the side with the tumors or with the largest tumors would be done first.
Prior to removing them, chest x-rays need to be taken and bloodwork evaluated. If her lungs are clear and the bloodwork is normal, then if she were my cat, I would proceed with surgery.
Make sure you have a good surgeon who has experience with this operation and practices very safe anesthesia. If you have a cat hospital anywhere near you, I would suggest you take her there.
After surgery, the removed glands need to be sent to a pathologist to see if the edges were clean. If they were, she has a chance of living much longer than 6 mnonths.
I have had many cases that survived for years, some indefinitely, after surgery, even with large, ugly tumors. There are no guarantees, obviously, and this is a decision you alone have to make.
As far as pain and discomfort go, most cats seem to show very little discomfort from this procedure. Make sure the hospital you choose gives pain medication to their patients.
I know this is a very difficult time for you and this is a huge decision to make. If I can be of any further help, please do not hesitate to write back. Remember, also, there is no right or wrong answer in this situation. You have to choose what seems best for Cleo and for yourself, and remain comfortable with that decision no matter what happens.
Best to you and Cleo,