Oral squamous cell carcinoma is the most common oral cancer affecting cats, hitting the gums, tongue, palate, and tonsils. It’s hard to remove all of the tumor surgically because it embeds in the mouth tissues so deeply. Average survival time is 3 months.
But that may change as a result of a new treatment being tried by veterinary researchers at the Netherlands’ University of Utrecht. They are testing something called nanobody-targeted photodynamic therapy — a treatment that involves the application of light and a light-sensitive chemical targeted directly at the tumor to trigger the death of cancer cells. The treatment is more precise than conventional photodynamic therapy.
It will be a couple of years before the scientific community has a handle on the value of the new approach. But since oral squamous cell carcinoma is among the top 10 cancers suffered by cats, causes pain while eating and drinking and is currently very difficult to treat, the research resources used to arrive at an answer are welcome.