Scottish Fold Health Issues

An Owner's Report on Vaccination Site Sarcoma

Last year my Scottish Fold, Dundee, developed a huge lump on her back, near the shoulder blades. It was clearly visible, and had not been there the day before. It was so big, that I assumed she had been stung by a bee or wasp, and was having an allergic reaction. We immediately took her to our vet. They performed a biopsy, removing a small portion of the lump for examination. They determined that it was some kind of tumor, and referred us to the Veterinary Tumor Institute in Santa Cruz, California. I appreciated the fact that my vet quickly recognized that they did not have the necessary experience to help Dundee.

At the Tumor Institute, Dundee was quickly diagnosed as having an injection site sarcoma. The doctor mentioned that Dundee's tumor, which was the size of half a tennis ball, was extraordinarily large. Usually, the tumors are about the size of an olive. It was explained to me that in 1991 veterinarians began to notice a higher than expected number of sarcomas occurring on cats' bodies in places where vaccines are commonly injected. Subsequently, an association between vaccine administration and sarcoma development has been established. The only treatment is aggressive surgery, where the sarcoma and the area surrounding the sarcoma are removed.

I was told that without surgery, Dundee would have only a few months to live. With surgery, and radiation treatment, she would have a chance at two more years, and perhaps more (in about 15% of the cases, the tumor is eradicated completely). This cancer spreads amazingly fast, so speedy treatment is essential.

We decided to have the surgery and radiation treatment done. Overall, the surgery and treatments cost $3000.00. The surgery took three hours, and they had to remove parts of her shoulder blades to get all of the cancerous cells. Dundee had to stay in the hospital for five days. When she came home, we kept her in a large dog kennel so she would not try to run around and jump. She did not feel al all good - and lost weight. I had to try very hard to get her to eat - special cat foods, baby food, tuna, etc. I bought a baby spoon and fed her with that. Sometimes when she tasted the food, I could get her to eat on her own. I did this several times a day.

Three weeks after the surgery, Dundee began radiation treatments. She went three times a week, for two months, and each appointment took about 2 hours because she needed to be sedated each time (they use gas for this).

Finally, the radiation treatments were done, and we monitored Dundee at home as she got her strength, and her appetite back.

Dundee is doing very well now. Her fur is growing back (white in the area of the radiation treatment), and she can run and jump without pain. I am very happy we decided on the surgery (although frankly, there was no other decision for us). It was hard on Dundee, but when I see her now, rolling in the sun, I think it was worth it for her too.

On the subject of vaccinations, I do still have my cats vaccinated, but I ask the vet to inject into the leg. If a tumor develops on the leg, it is much more difficult for the cancer to reach major organs, and, if necessary the leg can be amputated, completely eradicating the tumor. Not a nice thought, but I believe this gives your cat the best chance.

This site was created for information.
This site was NOT created to diagnose or treat any condition.
ALWAYS seek the attention of your veterinarian to help in the diagnosis and treatment of your pets.

Last updated 03/26/02

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