Meet Sox, a 12 year old domestic short hair cat who came to see us in November. We saw Sox earlier this year for his vaccination and his owners were concerned about some skin lesions on his nose. Dr Tanya suspected that they were early squamous cell carcinomas, a skin cancer caused by the sun's UV rays. Sox's owners decided to monitor the lesions at that time but came back this month to get them looked at again.
Dr Tanya examined Sox again and observed that the lesions on his nose were getting bigger. She recommended surgery to remove the lesions and the associated cancer cells before they progressed any further. Sox's owners agreed so he was admitted to our hospital for surgery that same day.
Dr Andrea and Nurse Dee prepared Sox for his procedure by placing an intravenous catheter in his foreleg. This allows intravenous fluids to be given, which support the patient's blood pressure and internal organs while under anaesthetic. It also gives us easy access to a blood vessel to administer drugs as required. Once the patient was ready, Dr Andrea placed Sox under anaesthetic while Nurse Dee closely monitored his vital signs. For skin lesions such as Sox's, we use a hand held cryogenics device to freeze the cancerous cells. This is a straightforward and quick procedure, however, it is painful, which is why the patient needs to be under anaesthetic. In a short space of time, Dr Andrea froze and thawed Sox's lesions to kill off the surrounding cells. While he was under anaesthetic she also gave his teeth a quick scale and polish, an easy preventative procedure to catch his dental disease early and save him another anaesthetic in the near future.
Sox recovered well and went home the same day. His nose will be a little sore and swollen afterwards but will soon heal and recover. These sorts of carcinomas are quite common in pets who like to sunbathe, especially on the nose and ears where there are less hair and pigment to protect the skin. A variety of pet sunscreens are available which can help. If you see a spot on your pet's skin that you are concerned about, it is best to get it checked by a vet, and get it checked early!