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Jaw cancer?

Species: Cat
Breed: Tabby short hair
Age: 8-11 years
Hello doctor. My question is about my 8-10 year old cat. He has had teeth removed do to neck lesions in the past. He recently had 2 more removed. One being a lower canine tooth. The canine tooth showed no visible signs of lesion but with the X-ray you can see about half the root was dark. They removed the tooth and ended up breaking the jaw. They told me that the bone looked sort of moth eaten. I have a few questions. First question, they are not going to wire, muzzle, or treat the jaw for the break they want to let it heal naturally and only have a soft food diet for 6-8 weeks. Is this normal treatment? Other question, when I read about "moth eaten" bone, squamous cell carcinoma comes up. He has no other signs of cancer. No lumps or bumps. Is this a possibility? And with the lesion not showing on the outside of tooth can it be  Odontoclastic resorptive lesions? I've read that the root is just affected and that the tooth fuses to the bone and can lead to jaw breaks when tooth is removed? Can a specialist see from the X-ray what is wrong? Will the break heal?

Thank you
Kristi

kristimarcoffio@live.ca


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh dear. It sounds like Tiberius has been through a lot.

I get really concerned when I see moth eaten bone in a cat. Unfortunately as you mentioned, cancer is a possibility. Do you know if they biopsied the bone? This would be the only way to know if there really is cancer there. Unfortunately mouth cancer in cats is usually very aggressive and I have never had good success trying to treat it.

As far as the healing of the broken jaw goes, yes, in many cases we will just let a cat's jaw heal naturally without any wiring or hardware at all. The mouth of a cat usually is very good at healing.

Resorptive lesions really woudn't affect the jaw...just the tooth.

I have had some cases where a tooth had an ankylosed root (i.e. fused to the bone) and yes, I have had one where a jaw fractured when I tried to remove the tooth. In cases like this you just don't know if the jaw was already weakened or if the force that I used to remove the tooth caused the fracture.

However, as mentioned before, I'm really concerned about the moth eaten appearance to the bone.

If biopsies were done then this should give us an answer. If not, then yes, you could ask your vet to have a veterinary radiologist look at his xrays and give their opinion on how likely cancer is.

As far as healing, it all depends on whether or not there is cancer there. If not, then yes, the jaw should heal within a few weeks to a month or so. If there is cancer then the fracture may not heal and there may even be more dental problems.

I'm sorry for the potentially bad news.

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you for your time. I just have one more question, if there is no mass or lump but the bone just looks like that can it still be cancer? Can it have anything to do with anything else? I'm so worried about my boy. They did not do a biopsy. I will get X-rays sent. Did I just ruin the last bit of time he has left by doing this to him?....I'm so sad.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

It is possible that bone could look moth eaten because there is infection present. Cancer is a more likely cause but infection called osteomyelitis is possible.

Don't feel that this is your fault. You're doing everything you can. If this is cancer (and we don't know for sure that it is) then it would still be there even without the surgery. At least now we know to be watching him.



Customer reply:

I'm sorry but there is one more thing I forgot to mention. Before he had the dental done he had blood tests done. His globulin levels were high. They told me it could be cancer or inflammation / infection. They sent the blood to a specialist and they said the levels were not consistent with cancer. I'm going to also be talking to my vet again but they are away for a few days and I've been so worried I can't eat or sleep. Thank you again for your time.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome and don't be worried about asking more questions. Sometimes we can get hints about cancer on bloodwork, but not always. What you are describing with the globulins doesn't really help us one way or the other.



Customer reply:

Again I thank you, one last thing. If it is cancer and his jaw will not heal, can cats stay on metacam for long periods of time? How can he be comfortable until the end with this jaw?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I consider oral metacam safe for long term use in cats if necessary.

You'll likely know if he is not comfortable by monitoring his appetite. If he doesn't want to eat then this tells us that there is discomfort or pain present.



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.