Nasosinal Cancer in Cats
What are nasosinal tumors?
The nasal cavity is a large air-filled space above and behind the nose. Paranasal sinuses are air-filled spaces,
communicating with the nasal cavity. The most common type of cancers affecting this region are carcinomas and to lesser
extent sarcomas. The metastatic rate (spread to other organs) is considered low at the time of diagnosis but can be as
high as 50% at the time of death. The most common sites for metastasis are the lymph nodes and the lungs, but can also
include the bone, kidneys, liver, skin, and the brain.

How common are nasosinal tumors in cats?
Nasosinal cancer is less common in cats compared to dogs. The average age of cats at diagnosis is 10 years, however,
cats as young as 3 years have been diagnosed with this type of cancer. In general, the nasosinal tumors are only locally
invasive with a low potential to metastasize (spread to other organs).

What are the symptoms of nasosinal tumors in cats?
The symptoms of nasosinal tumors can overlap with those of other causes of nasal disease. These signs can include nose
bleeding, discharge, difficulty breathing, sneezing, facial swelling, facial deformity due to growing mass, eye discharge,
weakness, and/or weight loss. Cats with discharge from one nostril, bleeding, and/or difficulty of breathing are more likely
to have a tumor than other type of disease. The median duration of these symptoms is approximately 2 months.

How is the diagnosis made?
Advanced imaging techniques such as CT scan are superior (but expensive) tools for evaluating the location and extent of
tumors in the nasal cavity as well as for planning radiation therapy treatment. Standard X-rays are still acceptable and
readily accessible imaging tools but their resolution and level of anatomical detail are not as good as for CT scan. While
these imaging techniques can provide a lot of valuable information, they cannot always distinguish tumors from nose
inflammation. In order to definitively confirm cancerous growth in the nasal cavity, a tissue
biopsy should be obtained. For
nasal tumors, there is a variety of different techniques that can be used. These include vigorous nasal flushings in order to
dislodge pieces of tumor or transnostril aspiration, a technique that passes a needle through the nostril into the tumor. If
nearby lymph nodes appear swollen, they should be sampled for
cytology to test for the presence of cancer cells that
might have spread.

Does cancer cause pain in pets?
Pain is common in pets with cancer, with some tumors causing more pain than others. In addition to pain caused by the
actual tumors, pets will also experience pain associated with cancer treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy or
chemotherapy. Untreated pain decreases the pet's quality of life, and prolongs recovery from the illness, treatment or
injury. It is, therefore, essential that veterinary teams that are taking care of pets with cancer should also play a vital role in
educating pet owners about recognizing and managing pain in their pets. The best way to manage cancer pain in pets is to
prevent it, a term referred to as preemptive pain management. This strategy anticipates pain ahead of time and
administers pain medication before the pet actually experiences pain, thus ensuring the pet's maximum comfort.

To learn more about which tumors are likely to cause a lot of pain, how to recognize pain in pets with cancer and what
cancer pain management options are available for your pet, please visit the
Cancer Pain Management section.

Is nutritional support important for pets with cancer?
Cancer cachexia (a term referring to progressive severe weight loss) is frequently observed in pets with cancer. Pets with
cancer lose weight partly because of lack of appetite and partly because of cancer-induced altered metabolism. Some of
the causes for decreased appetite are related to the cancer itself (for example, tumors may physically interfere with food
chewing, swallowing, and digestion process) and some may be related to the side effects of cancer treatment (for example,
some chemotherapy drugs cause nausea and vomiting, and radiation therapy can cause mouth inflammation).

Proper nutrition while undergoing cancer treatment is essential to maintain your pet's strength, improve survival times,
quality of life and maximize response to therapy. Adequate nutritional support was shown to decrease the duration of
hospitalization, reduce post-surgery complications and enhance the healing process. Additionally, pets with cancer need to
be fed diets specifically designed to provide maximum benefit and nutritional support for the patient. To learn more, please
visit the
Cancer Nutrition section.

What are the treatment options and prognosis for nasosinal tumors in cats?
There are few reports available on the treatment of nasosinal tumors in cats. The largest study included 16 cats which
were treated with
radiation therapy (total dose of 48Gy). The therapy was well tolerated, resulting in minimal side effects in
three cats. The median survival time was 1 year, with 44% of the cats alive 1 year after radiation and 16% alive 2 years

Are there any clinical trials for nasosinal tumors in cats?
Although there are no clinical trials specifically designed to test new treatments for nasosinal cancer in cats, there are
some clinical trials available for cats with any tumor type for which your pet may qualify. To learn more these trials, please
visit the
Cat Clinical Trials (any tumor type) section.

  • Withrow Stephen J, and David M. Vail. Small Animal Clinical Oncology. St Louis: Saunders Elsevier, 2007.
  • Morrison Wallace B. Cancer in Dogs and Cats: Medical and Surgical Management. Baltimore: Williams&Wilkins, 199
Comprehensive guide to cancer diagnosis and treatment in cats and dogs
© 2007 Pet Cancer Center. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Last updated 2/19/2017
  • Common symptoms of nasosinal cancer in cats include nasal discharge, nose bleeds or facial deformity
  • Median survival time in 16 cats treated with radiation treatment alone was 12 months