Wednesday, July 19, 2006
My lovely, fluffy, ragamuffin cat, Crotchet, is recovering from surgery. Awhile ago I noticed an odd lump on her back which didn't feel like a sebaceous cyst, granuloma or any other lesion of benign origin. The vet was initially skeptical about my worry-wort behaviour but then agreed to lop the thing off. I duly picked up Crotchet who was very dopey and wrapped in a body bandage. The poor thing hid under the bed for three days. The vet had made an astonishingly large crescent-shaped incision, about 12cm long, across her back and was tight-lipped about a possible diagnosis. Unfortunately, my fears turned out to be well-founded when the pathology report came back. The lump was a fibrosarcoma, a particularly nasty kind of soft tissue cancer. The prognosis is not great but markedly improves if the tumour is caught early and the surgery is fairly radical (now I know why the incision was so large for a less than 2cm lump). Another point in Crotchet's favour is that the mass was not yet vascular (infiltrated with blood vessels) so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we won't get any recurrence. This particular kind of cancer is apparently a rare side effect of Feline Leukemia vaccination (your cat is at much greater risk for developing FL than this complication so please don't stop the shots) but ironic as I've spent a large part of my career developing vaccines. Incidentally if anyone has any ideas how a killed preparation of FeLV can induce a tumour please let me know (come on Dr Jim, you've always got a view on these things: I suspect a protein promoter myself).