Charlie has squamous cell carcinoma

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On Friday I took my twelve year old cat Charlie in to the vet. He had been drooling a lot and I wanted to find out what was causing it. After examining him, she concluded it wasn’t a bad tooth but possibly an infection of his salivary glands or a tumor. Something was pushing up his tongue. She prescribed an antibiotic to try first.

On Monday, I took him back in. This time the news couldn’t have been worse. She said that the area under his tongue had ulcerated and that in all likelihood, this was squamous cell carcinoma. If it was SCC, then Charlie’s prognosis was very poor, possibly only a few weeks left to live. I remembered seeing a TED talk on angiogenesis a few months ago, and so yesterday I took Charlie to see an oncologist in the hope that perhaps he’d have better news. Unfortunately, he seconded the diagnosis of SCC and said that Charlie would be a borderline case for surgery but first he’d want to see a cat scan with the surgeon to determine the extent of the tumor. He also discussed with me other options including radiation and angiogenesis but in his opinion, surgery offered the best chance for survival.

I feel completely crushed by this development in Charlie’s health. The more research I do on SCC, the grimmer the outlook for beating it is. The cause of SCC isn’t known either, though one site I came across said there seemed to be a higher incidence of it in households where there was a smoker. Another association was to canned food, particularly tuna. Tuna? My heart sank when I read that as I am guilty of feeding Charlie tuna from time to time. Had I known that there was a risk to cancer somehow related to canned tuna, I would never have given it to him. Though I haven’t seen any other reports of such a link, it’s obviously very troubling to me just the same. So for all you cat owners, please be careful about what you feed them. What may seem like healthy food to you, may not be to a cat.

This is not the first time that I’ve felt defeated in being able to help a friend or pet survive cancer, but it feels like it! I love this cat more than I could ever have imagined. He’s been my little buddy for ten years and now I know at some point in the not too distant future, I’m probably going to have to put him down. This is not a day I look forward to.

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