Squamous cell carcinomas are malignant cancers originating from the lining cells of the mouth. They are locally invasive and often recurrent. Only 5-10% of tumors arising in the gums (gingiva) metastasize (spread), but cancers in the tongue often metastasize to local lymph nodes. Cancers that originate from the tonsil metastasize quickly to the other tonsil, lymph nodes of the throat and other parts of the body. (VCA Animal Hospital)
I am trying to inform pet owners on this form of cancer to be sure your pet doesn’t end up like mine did. If you are reading my posts, I wrote a post about my cat Chocolate. This is what he died from. I wish I would have been more aware of the signs of this cancer. I am going to include some links to different websites that have the information about this form of cancer. This cancer can only be treated if found in its early stage. It is very aggressive. Even if diagnosed early, the cancer can be removed but radiation treatments must be performed, and even then there is a high chance the cancer will return. There is more success rates with dogs, but cats don’t have as high of a survival rate.
Let me introduce you to Chocolate. One of my many kitties I have and love like a child (I have no children so all my pets are my kids). He was the sweetest cat! He never complained. He never growled or hissed at other cats that would enter our home. He was an easygoing kitty, that was as handsome as can be. How he got the name Chocolate…well it started off as just a nickname that happened to stick and one he accepted. Since he accepted it, and you know how cats get to make the final decisions, we accepted it as well.
I rescued him about 15 years ago. The cutest kitten you can imagine!! He was a very passive cat that loved to play and got along with other four-legged critters well.
This past year he was diagnosed with diabetes. It got to the point where I had to give him insulin injections twice a day. He was such a trooper about it. He never flinched and would just settle down to get his injections.
Around December 23, 2013, he stopped eating. I went to our veterinarian, Dr. Alford of Live Oak Animal Clinic and had his glucose level checked, which was low. He was given fluids and dextrose. I was also given some pills to help stimulate his appetite. He was eating for a couple of days and then stopped all together again. Back to the vet I went.
His blood sugar was low again and he needed fluids. The vet started wondering if he had pancreatitis. On Thursday, December 26th, I made an appointment with an internal medicine specialist, Dr. Meeks, who is with Affiliated Pet Emergency Services in Gainesville, Florida. Our appointment was on Monday December 30th. Until then I continued to give Chocolate his medication and fed him Hills Prescription A/D wet food through a syringe.
Monday finally arrived and we were able to see the specialist. Blood work was taken, ultra sound was performed and vital signs were taken. Basically all looked well, except that some ulcers were found in his mouth. Dr. Meeks explained that these ulcers can be very painful and that this was the reason he was not eating. Since he was not eating and was very dehydrated, the doctor wanted to keep him in the hospital for the next 24 – 48 hours. I hated to leave him, knowing he would be scared, but I also knew it was for the best.
They kept him on IV fluids during the night and gave him other medications (like pain meds and antibiotics) and tried to see if he would eat. He did not. Dr. Meeks informed me the next day that since he was still not eating that a feeding tube needed to be placed. While he was sedated, she looked closely in his mouth and found an inflamed area under his tongue. His tongue also felt hard in some areas. She biopsied the area and the feeding tube was placed. The tube went through an area in his neck down into his stomach. I was rest assured that this was not painful or uncomfortable for him. He was left in the hospital overnight again and I awaited for the update the next day.
Dr. Meeks called to say that Chocolate could come home (this was January 1, 2014). He would need to be kept on the feeding tube and that I would have to feed and medicate him through his tube. I was so nervous about all this but knew I had to be strong for my little boy.
Chocolate came home and was so happy. He was purring like crazy and saying “hi” to all his other buddies. When I had to do his first tube feeding I was so nervous it made me nauseous, but we got through it. I made a calendar of all his feeding and medication times. I was literally up during all times of the night but it was worth it.
We had our routine down with the feedings by now. I spent hours brushing and snuggling with him, telling him how much I loved him and that I knew everything would be fine. We would figure out the problem, get the right medications and or surgery done, and he would be all well. Chocolate stayed by me a lot. I would get on my computer and he would lay his head down on my computer mouse on top of my hand.
Friday, January 3rd, I received a call from Dr. Meeks to go over the test and biopsy reports. Most of the blood work came back fine, but she did believe that he had pancreatitis. And then I could hear her voice change and knew all was not well. The biopsy which was conducted on his tongue came back as a malignant tumor. Basically Chocolate had cancer…….a very aggressive form of cancer.
It’s called Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Dr. Meeks called an oncologist to see if there was anything that could be performed but since the tumor was so far advanced there was nothing that could be done. Chocolate could be sustained for 2 – 4 weeks on a feeding tube with medication, but that is not how I wanted my little man to live. He was to precious and special.
Friday evening I spent the day and night brushing him and giving him kisses all over. He purred and was happy. He romped around the house making sure everything was fine and then he would come back to me. We snuggled and gave nose kisses…..and he purred. I made sure to keep him on his pain meds to keep him comfortable. I continued with his tube feedings and let his other meds (mostly antibiotics) slip away.
Saturday, January 4th, 2014 @ 11:46 AM, Chocolate, my precious little angel, was put to rest. I actually had my head on his chest, petting him to ease his nerves, and heard him purring. I listened to the purr with every precious second………and then it stopped and I knew my little angel was gone.
For two days I was in a state of deep depression. Every where I looked I saw him……and the purr……..that last minute purr before he passed haunted me. Knowing I heard him take his last breath stabbed at my heart.
I had Chocolate cremated and will have his urn close near me. For all you pet owners our there that have lost a loved one, you know my pain, and I know it will ease and the memories I will always have.
Til then……..I will have to wait to meet him at rainbow bridge, along with my others that have passed on. I miss you Chocolates…………………