Mammary Tumor Second Opinion

by Melanie

My dear friend Buddy

My dear friend Buddy

Hi Doctor Neely,

I'm so glad to have found your site. I have been reading many of the other posts in the forum regarding mammary tumors and my heart goes out to those that have lost dear furry friends.

My beloved cat Buddy, a 9-year-old male, has an enlarged nipple that, over the past year, has started to develop a knot in the tissue under it as well. The whole lump, including the nipple, is about 2-3 cm. I took my cat to the veterinarian and he said that we should remove it and send it for pathology. However, everything I read says that there is a high likelihood that it is cancerous and I have a fear that if we remove just the cat’s lump that it may just return... and with a vengeance.

The veterinarian did blood work which looked good. I asked my veterinarian about doing xrays of internal organs and possibly just taking out the whole one side of the cat’s mammary chain to be safe, but he said that those things wouldn't be necessary unless we find out it is cat cancer when it is removed.

What should I do? Is there any risk in following his advice and going with the small surgery? I don't want to put Buddy through multiple recurrent surgeries only to learn that by removing it we caused it to metastasize. Any advice is much appreciated.

Thank you so much for the service you provide for your readers and fellow cat lovers.

Dear Melanie,

Thank you for kind words and for providing such a beautiful picture of your cat. I am very sorry to hear about these concerns about his cat health.

The only xray your kitty really needs is one of his chest, as mammary cancer metastasizes to the lungs. I would certainly recommend doing an xray of your cat’s lungs prior to beginning any other diagnostic tests or surgeries.

Unfortunately, I have never conducted surgery on a cat involving a nipple that did not return as cat cancer. For this reason, I would typically recommend that your cat have the entire mammary chain removed surgically, rather than just removing the lump for pathology. This is, of course, assuming that xrays are conducted first to rule out whether there is any metastasis to the lungs.

That being said, however, there may not be much danger in your veterinarian removing just the cat tumor, as long as he takes very wide and deep margins. And, if the pathology report does indicate that your cat has cancer, your veterinarian would need to do surgery to remove the entire mammary chain very quickly after the diagnosis. In fact, this may be a better option, considering the fact that your cat is a male. While males certainly can develop mammary cancer, it is more rare, and the less invasive surgery may be a better choice for the time being.

Again, I am so very sorry to hear about your Buddy's health problems, and wish you all the best in your decisions for diagnosing and treating your beloved kitty’s condition. I will be keeping you and Buddy in my thoughts.

Kindest regards,
Dr. Neely

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