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Ask Dr. Kara Your Own Question
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16730
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My cat had a sinus infection and than clean bill of health

Customer Question

My cat had a sinus infection and than clean bill of health went in for teeth was told has jaw timer on test just looking in mouth she said teeth needed cleaning but things this a is cancer the cat has all the same symtoms of a abcess swelling drowning and what do I do get another opion I was told after to weeks of clean bill of Heath her as a tumer and is worried will die when he cannot eat
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am so very sorry to hear that Sweetie has been diagnosed with a jaw tumor and I empathize with how upset you must be given that on physical examination a few weeks ago he looked well and was given a clean bill of health. Please give me several minutes to type up my thoughts on his diagnosis and why things happened the way that they did.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Cancer tends to be extremely sneaky. It is often a smoldering disease that sometimes we are fortunate enough to catch early, often by mistake looking for something else, but many times very late in the disease process. The reason for that is that cancer is an abnormally fast growth of what starts as normal tissue, but often morphs into abnormal tissue that invades where it shouldn't, spreading and destroying tissue close to the primary tumor and in many cases spreading to other distant sites where filter organs (the lungs, liver, spleen, lymph nodes) filter out the cancer cells allowing a new (metastatic) tumor to grow.As the tumor grows and destroys tissue around it we can see tissue death, which is perfect food for bacteria. That is why we often see secondary bacterial infections along with tumors, and we can get fooled thinking that is the only problem.Until cancer destroys tissue such that it is no longer functional (the lungs are so filled with abnormal cells that they cannot exchange oxygen, the liver can now longer perform its job as a clean-up organ because normal liver cells are replaced by cancer cells, or the jaw breaks or becomes lytic because cancer cells replace bone) we may not know it is there.So if your kitty seemed to have a nasal discharge that improved with antibiotics then a sinus infection that was treated and responded well makes sense. If we saw some teeth that looked infected, broken or had a lot of tartar then a good cleaning and possibly extracting any teeth too diseased to treat would make sense.Unfortunately I suspect that when they cleaned Sweetie's teeth they realized that there was more there that originally was thought. The jaw likely felt soft and maybe fragmented when the tooth roots were removed. Radiographs of his jaw likely showed proliferation of soft tissue (tumor) and breakdown of normal jawbone (lysis). If a biopsy was taken and submitted then the tumor could be confirmed.I think that this has happened to every veterinarian, and it is heartbreaking for everyone. To go from expecting to lose some teeth, but curing the infection and making him healthy to having to break the news of cancer and all that holds is not what we want to do, or have happen to our patients.You are correct in that with these types of tumors eventually the jaw gets damaged enough that it is too painful to eat, the jaw breaks, or the tumor spread leads to other life-threatening symptoms. But in the meantime we can focus on controlling pain, (Buprenex works pretty well), reducing inflammation, feeding high quality, high energy, soft foods to make sure he gets needed nutrition without hurting him or further damaging the tumor site, and using antibiotics and oral rinses as needed to control secondary infections.I know that you are heartbroken, and I am very sorry for you and Sweetie.Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry my cat never had dental work done this is the problem ? And yes needle biopsy was done waiting for results
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Do you have answers regrading this vs abcess that this happen in two weeks
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
I misunderstood. In your write up you talked about his teeth needing a cleaning, so I thought that was when his tumor was found.I don't necessarily think that it all happened in two weeks. I suspect that his sinus infection was an early indicator. The tumor was likely irritating the sinuses, allowed a secondary infection, which responded to antibiotics.But then the mass got big enough to become apparent in his mouth and that is when it became evident that more was going on. Were radiographs taken when the aspirate was done?
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
I suspect that he does have many symptoms of an oral abscess, because tumors and the destruction that they cause give bacteria a great place to thrive. It isn't that he may not have an infection, it is that he likely has more than an infection.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
X-ray done but had no comparison x-rayed to go with it looks like something was eating at his job own which sounded like a tumor to her but I'm not sure that if it was there before now that I am sitting at home with pain medication and antibiotics the swelling of his jaw is all almost gone so I'm very disillusioned maybe a second Pinyan would help
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
There would be no reason to see bone loss in a cat's jaw without serious disease. A simple infection in the gums/mouth should not cause significant bone loss. There is a characteristic pattern of bone loss that we see with cancer. While radiographs are not 100% diagnostic, when we see particular characteristic changes then we need to consider that there is more than an infection going on. I am glad to hear that he is on pain medication and antibiotics, both are very important.I would encourage you to seek a second opinion, because I think it will help you become more comfortable with what is going on. I think your veterinarian is absolutely correct unfortunately. But I know such horrible news without warning is hard to take. Wait for results of his aspirate, but if you are still feeling torn then take his radiographs and aspirate results along with his medical history to another veterinarian. I would recommend a feline only veterinarian, as they may be better able to help you understand what is going on.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes I agree with that is it true that they will not remove a tumor from a cat jaw ? Water it's ca or not most cats don't make it or half there face would be gone
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
It depends upon where the tumor is located.If it were in the front part of his lower jaw (mandible) then those are amenable to surgical removal of the tumor and part of the jaw. Cats do pretty well post surgery, and even if we do not affect a cure we are often able to remove the bulk of the tumor and slow regrowth. These kitties may die of other things before tumor regrowth.But tumors of the back of the lower jaw or of the upper jaw are usually not amenable to surgery. Those tumors are not just involving the jaw bone, but also the sinuses, the larynx, and are often invading into the soft tissues of the face and neck around the primary tumor. We simply wouldn't be able to remove enough tumor to make regrowth slow enough to make it worth putting the kitty through the pain of surgery. And kitties that cannot smell well (which would happen with removing part of the upper jaw/sinuses/nose don't eat well and are miserable. I would not put my kitty through that sort of torture.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I wanted to check in and see if you had any further questions after reading my response. If you do please feel free to respond with them. If not I would like to hear what you have decided to do for Sweetie and how things are going for him, thank you, ***** *****