Feline Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Clinical Manifestations and Literature Review

J Vet Dent. 2015 Spring;32(1):30-40. doi: 10.1177/089875641503200104.


Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most commonly encountered malignant oral tumor in cats. The etiology of this locally invasive tumor is likely multifactorial. Several risk factors have been identified, including the use of flea collars, and a history of feeding canned food and canned tuna. Clinical signs vary depending on tumor location. The tumor commonly arises from the gingiva and mucosa of the maxilla, mandible, tongue, sublingual area, or tonsillar region. Maxillary SCC commonly presents clinically as an ulcerative lesion, whereas mandibular SCC is commonly proliferative, expansile, and firm. Lingual/sublingual SCC may be ulcerative, necrotic, infiltrative, or proliferative. In general, feline oral SCC is an invasive and malignant neoplasm regardless of its location. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and combinations thereof have been attempted with rarely a satisfactory response. Currently, cures are obtained only in a small subset of cats whose tumors are amenable to complete resection, or where resection with microscopic residual disease is followed by definitive radiation therapy. A multimodal treatment approach likely offers the best chance of success. For cats with advanced disease, palliative care may improve patients' quality of life, albeit transiently. Sequelae associated with tumor progression and local tissue destruction often result in euthanasia of feline patients with oral SCC.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / veterinary*
  • Cat Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cat Diseases / etiology
  • Cat Diseases / therapy*
  • Cats
  • Mouth Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Mouth Neoplasms / etiology
  • Mouth Neoplasms / therapy
  • Mouth Neoplasms / veterinary*