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Fibrosarcoma in cats: causes of the malignant tumor


Fibrosarcoma is a malignant skin tumor. The cells of the connective tissue (fibrocytes) degenerate and lead to cancer. The causes of fibrosarcomas have not yet been unequivocally clarified. It used to be assumed that leukosis vaccination triggers this type of skin cancer - but this is now considered obsolete. But what is behind it? Vaccinations used to be suspected of causing fibrosarcoma - Photo: Shutterstock / Wojciech Wandzel

In cats, the risk of developing fibrosarcoma increases with age. From the age of 8, cats seem to be particularly susceptible to this type of skin cancer. About one in 1,000 older cats develops such a tumor. What could that be?

What exactly is fibrosarcoma?

Fibrosarcoma in cats is a malignant tumor. Tumors develop when the body's own cells multiply abnormally. In contrast to benign tumors, malignant tumors spread uncontrollably and also affect other parts of the body - cancer develops. If tissue cells are affected by such a malignant tumor, one speaks of a sarcoma. An osteosarcoma affects the bone tissue, a liposarcoma the fatty tissue - and a fibrosarcoma the connective tissue.

Fibrosarcoma through vaccination? How the myth came about

Scientists associated the formation of fibrosarcoma with certain vaccinations in the early 1990s. The immunizations against rabies and feline leukosis were suspected. Certain auxiliaries in dead vaccines have been held responsible, which can cause dangerous inflammation at the vaccination site. This should eventually lead to the formation of a fibrosarcoma.

Caution! Don't let this myth stop you from vaccinating your cat. If you have any concerns or doubts, speak to your veterinarian. He will put together an individual vaccination plan for your pet.

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Possible causes of fibrosarcoma in cats

It is not yet clear how fibrosarcoma develops in cats. Malignant tumors usually develop on parts of the body that have been particularly affected by infections, inflammation or irritation. For example, a leukemia infection can cause cancer - one more reason to vaccinate your cat against this disease.

It is believed that certain skin irritations or minor injuries can lead to fibrosarcoma. It can also be an injection during a vaccination - but that's not the only reason. A syringe is always a minor injury. This can also be caused by thorns or tick bites. There is an inflammatory reaction at the injury site; it shows that the immune system responds to it. It is noticeable by temporary reddening and swelling.

In rare cases, the inflammation does not subside, but triggers an uncontrolled proliferation of degenerative connective tissue cells - a fibrosarcoma develops.

Symptoms of fibrosarcoma

Fibrosarcoma manifests itself as a lump on the skin. This involves an increase in circumference, a tumor, in the skin or the subcutis. Fibrosarcomas feel coarse and gnarled, they can hardly be moved. They grow quite quickly and, if left untreated, can break open.

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Fibrosarcoma suspected in your cat: what to do?

For safety, you should keep an eye on your cat after an injection or skin injury. Does the swelling and redness not go away even after days? Does the swelling seem to get worse? Then it's best to go to the vet with her. He scans the skin lump and, if a tumor is suspected, takes a few connective tissue cells by means of a puncture or biopsy. He then examines in the laboratory whether these are cancer cells. An X-ray examination can also show whether the cancer has already spread further, i.e. has metastasized.

Treating fibrosarcoma in cats: surgery and chemotherapy

If your cat is suspected of having fibrosarcoma, the tumor should be surgically removed as soon as possible. The affected tissue is generously cut out during the operation. This is necessary so that the cancer cells do not multiply again. With immunotherapy before and after the operation, the veterinarian stimulates your cat's defenses so that they can better fight the cancer cells.

With chemotherapy, your cat is given certain medications that can destroy cancer cells. Radiotherapy can also help. Most often, the veterinarian combines these therapeutic approaches in order to eliminate the cancer as thoroughly and sustainably as possible.