During Breast Cancer Awareness month, I want to remind people to check their cats for breast cancer. Unfortunately, ninety percent of breast tumors found in cats are malignant. It spreads rapidly to the regional lymph nodes so it is vitally important to perform regular breast exams on your cat. Early detection is your cat’s only hope.
Cats have eight sets of mammary glands, two thoracic glands between the front legs, two cranial abdominal found just behind the thoracic glands where the ribs end, two caudal abdonimal glands found on the abdomen and two inguinal glands found between the hind legs. In my experience, the thoracic and inguinal glands are the most prone to cancer. I also tend to see more of it in Siamese and related breeds.
When performing an exam, pick a time when your cat is napping and relaxed. Gently, move your finger tips from one gland to another feeling for any kind of irregularity. While breast tumors often feel like little BB’s in dogs, tumors in cats range from thickenings of the skin to discrete lumps. If any abnormalities are found contact your veterinarian immediately. This is not a wait and see situation.
To prevent breast cancer in cats, have them spayed before their first heat cycle. As in dogs, each heat cycle increases their chances of developing this disease.