Oral Cancer / SCC after Dental Cleaning?

Mailmans_Mom

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A friend of mine's cat was just diagnosed with oral squamous cell carcinoma. This is about 2-3 months after a dental cleaning. As I was researching the disease, I've found a few more reports where someone's cat was diagnosed with mouth cancer shortly after getting their teeth cleaned. I know these are just anecdotes, but I am curious. Have you had a cat with SCC or some kind of mouth or jaw cancer? When was it diagnosed?
 

neely

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I'm sorry to hear about your friend's cat. Our last cat was diagnosed with cancer of the mandible. She had bloodwork done prior to her dental cleaning and had FORL. It was when she went in for her dental procedure that the veterinary dental specialist discovered the cancer. Unfortunately this is a very aggressive type of cancer. :frown:
 

Mamanyt1953

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I have not found anything suggesting that dental cleaning could cause oral cancers in cats (or anything else, for that matter). I do wonder if it might accelerate growth if a very small tumor was present and disturbed, which is a different thing, entirely. I do not know, but it seems somewhat possible. I do know that a LOT of mouth tumors are actually discovered during cleanings.
 

fionasmom

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I had a young semi feral who had oral SCC and passed away from it several years ago. There was no dental work or cleaning done in close proximity to the diagnosis. Agitation of tumors, including during biopsies where the mass is disturbed (including FNA), can supposedly increase risk of spread or occurrence in other locations. How often and under what circumstances and with what types of cancers, I am not sure.
 

marshmallow2013

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My cat Mittens had his teeth cleaned a second time in his life on Feb. 7, 2022. Vet said his gums were swollen. His blood test was normal. By March 28th, 2022, his eating habits started to changed and he became more picky with food and wanted more kibble. He started dring more water but no huge pees in the litter. Everything was normal. He was just drinking more water than ususal. He died of Squamous Cell Carcinoma on Oct. 31 2022. I don’t know if the teeth cleaning made him live longer or shortened his life. Maybe it had nothing to do with it because he was 12 years old. His new vet said it was his age. But we are shocked and heartbroken. I did notice a weird thing, his ears had wax which I noticed before he went for teeth cleaning and the vet didn’t think it was a big deal. It was not earmites. He was single indoor cat. Few weeks beofre he died I noticed his ears were not making the brown wax. I pointed it out to his new vet too.
 

fionasmom

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I am sorry for your loss of your cat. These situations are very hard to judge in retrospect. Any lesion present would have been noticed by the vet when he did the cleaning, although that does not rule out something too small or hidden in the gum which was not visible. My guess is that the cleaning did not do one or the other to him as the SCC was probably just becoming larger as he had his teeth cleaned.
 

daftcat75

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Cabbie never had her teeth cleaned. I came home from a weekend trip to find her with thick drool ropes from her mouth. She went to the vet the next day who told me there was a mass that needed to be removed and biopsied. That was done within the week (back when I could still get vet appointments within a day or two.) She was scheduled to see an oncologist the next week. But the drooling, her appetite, and her overall desire to keep going tanked that weekend and I changed her appointment to something more final. 😿 She was ten years old when I helped her pass.

Krista went thirteen years without any dental cleanings. I didn't know teeth cleaning for cats was a thing for almost two cats' lifetimes. In her thirteenth year, she started peeing the walls out of nowhere. I struggled with this like it was a behavioral issue for a month or so before she went into the vet for an unrelated reason. I mentioned the inappropriate peeing and the vet popped her mouth open. He told me she was peeing the walls to get my attention about her painful teeth. Sure enough, when she had those teeth removed, she stopped peeing the walls. She had FORLs (resorptive lesions.) Those were not the last of her dentals or extractions. She would have several more rounds over the next three years. She finally had her remaining teeth mercifully extracted by a dentist so we didn't have to keep doing those extractions every few months. She probably had half a dozen dental procedures in those last three years. She did not develop oral SCC.

I think for those who report their cat developed SCC after a dental cleaning, I believe they have correlation and causation mixed up. Like others mentioned, it is probably more likely these cats already had a developing SCC that was disturbed by a cleaning rather than the cleaning itself causing the cancer. The other thing I learned about oral SCC after Cabbie's passing is that it is highly correlated with second-hand smoke. I'm not sure if they go as far as saying second-hand smoke causes oral SCC in cats. But that wouldn't surprise me either. Sadly, myself and several other members of her college student household were all smokers for many of her years. Thankfully, I did not repeat that mistake with Krista (had already quit smoking) or my current cat Betty that I adopted this January. I'm still waiting on her first dental which was supposed to be in February. We know there is a problem spot in her mouth that needs attention. But we got sidetracked with her undisclosed-by-the-shelter IBD problems until just last month. She's finally at a stable enough place that we can pause the steroids tapering and explore whether those problem areas in her mouth could actually be accounting for her low appetite. This is what I have suspected all along.
 
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marshmallow2013

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Cabbie never had her teeth cleaned. I came home from a weekend trip to find her with thick drool ropes from her mouth. She went to the vet the next day who told me there was a mass that needed to be removed and biopsied. That was done within the week (back when I could still get vet appointments within a day or two.) She was scheduled to see an oncologist the next week. But the drooling, her appetite, and her overall desire to keep going tanked that weekend and I changed her appointment to something more final. 😿 She was ten years old when I helped her pass.

Krista went thirteen years without any dental cleanings. I didn't know teeth cleaning for cats was a thing for almost two cats' lifetimes. In her thirteenth year, she started peeing the walls out of nowhere. I struggled with this like it was a behavioral issue for a month or so before she went into the vet for an unrelated reason. I mentioned the inappropriate peeing and the vet popped her mouth open. He told me she was peeing the walls to get my attention about her painful teeth. Sure enough, when she had those teeth removed, she stopped peeing the walls. She had FORLs (resorptive lesions.) Those were not the last of her dentals or extractions. She would have several more rounds over the next three years. She finally had her remaining teeth mercifully extracted by a dentist so we didn't have to keep doing those extractions every few months. She probably had half a dozen dental procedures in those last three years. She did not develop oral SCC.

I think for those who report their cat developed SCC after a dental cleaning, I believe they have correlation and causation mixed up. Like others mentioned, it is probably more likely these cats already had a developing SCC that was disturbed by a cleaning rather than the cleaning itself causing the cancer. The other thing I learned about oral SCC after Cabbie's passing is that it is highly correlated with second-hand smoke. I'm not sure if they go as far as saying second-hand smoke causes oral SCC in cats. But that wouldn't surprise me either. Sadly, myself and several other members of her college student household were all smokers for many of her years. Thankfully, I did not repeat that mistake with Krista (had already quit smoking) or my current cat Betty that I adopted this January. I'm still waiting on her first dental which was supposed to be in February. We know there is a problem spot in her mouth that needs attention. But we got sidetracked with her undisclosed-by-the-shelter IBD problems until just last month. She's finally at a stable enough place that we can pause the steroids tapering and explore whether those problem areas in her mouth could actually be accounting for her low appetite. This is what I have suspected all along.
I have read too that second hand smoke is one of the factors for SCC in cats. Also feeding a canned diet or tuna in diet. My cat was raised in a tobacco free house and he was only six months old when we found him. I did feed him a diet of wet food and kibble, avoiding fish flavors. I have an older friend who smokes and lives in NY. She never had a cat die of SCC. She feeds them all Weruva or fancy feast, only canned food. She takes all of them to holistic vet regularly. Vet who treated my cat has been practicing for over 30 years thinks these studies were not related. He told me he has treated many cats with SCC and it’s only genetics. I
 

fionasmom

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The cat I mentioned lived outside, tended by an older woman who passed away, and was rescued by a young man who asked me to take her. Never near cigarette smoke, probably ever, but did eat a diet that contained fish flavored or based food, at least mixed poultry and fish.

Before anyone blames themselves or decides that another course of action would have been better, we need to remember that cancer is at least 100 different diseases. There are subtypes within each type. If this were not the case, we might be a lot closer to a cure, but we aren't because it will probably take 100 different cures. Anything that causes a mutation is enough to cause a cancer, and that list is quite long.

Recently, I took my oldest cat, Kate, to the vet for a swelling in her upper jaw. It is a bone cyst, not great news, but I was afraid it was SCC. I asked her what advancements had been made in oral SCC and cats in the last 20 years. Her answer was that there was absolutely nothing new in its treatment.
 

thevintageowl

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My 16 year old cat, Lucy, was diagnosed with possible oral SCC in late September 2022. She had a painful growth in her mouth (which has since grown) but she is very old so we opted not to have her biopsied or put her through any tests/treatment. She had most of her teeth removed in March 2022 due to stomatitis and advanced dental disease and it was VERY hard on her....I thought we were going to lose her after the surgery. There was nothing notable in her bloodwork or x-rays right before surgery so I am not sure what caused her cancer to arise. Her odd symptoms started almost immediately after the surgery...maybe the trauma to her mouth didn't help. It's very sad and I never in a million years thought my poor baby would have this awful cancer.
 

marshmallow2013

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My 16 year old cat, Lucy, was diagnosed with possible oral SCC in late September 2022. She had a painful growth in her mouth (which has since grown) but she is very old so we opted not to have her biopsied or put her through any tests/treatment. She had most of her teeth removed in March 2022 due to stomatitis and advanced dental disease and it was VERY hard on her....I thought we were going to lose her after the surgery. There was nothing notable in her bloodwork or x-rays right before surgery so I am not sure what caused her cancer to arise. Her odd symptoms started almost immediately after the surgery...maybe the trauma to her mouth didn't help. It's very sad and I never in a million years thought my poor baby would have this awful cancer.
My Mittens had his teeth cleaned on February 7 2022, and by end of March he was drinking more water. I thought it must be the weather get warmer, we live in Central Florida and it gets warm even with the air conditioning runnin* all the time. But the vet said his blood wor sho his kidneys were fine. Just had swollen gums. I don’t know why but his teeth looked good. I some feel the teeth cleaning could have irritated something
but he did have brown wax buildup in his ears and the vet didn’t think anything when I told her about it. Don’t know if tee cleaning made him live longer or made him sicker sooner.
 

jersharocks

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My cat Flakes had SCC. He had a long history of tooth problems and had several teeth removed in the last year of his life. I do not blame the dental cleanings or the dental extractions. That's very illogical IMO. Why on earth would a cleaning cause cancer? An infection, maybe. But cancer? I don't think so.

How many cats get routine cleanings without ending up with cancer? If cleanings caused cancer we would see a clear correlation. We don't. It's purely correlation. And a lot of people are barely paying any attention to their cat's mouth until they get a cleaning or need an extraction.

What is more likely IMO is that cats who have a history teeth problems (ones getting more frequent cleanings and dental work) are more likely to develop oral cancer. That's not to say that all cats with teeth problems will get SCC nor does it mean that cats without existing teeth problems are immune from SCC.
 
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marshmallow2013

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I agree with you that dental cleaning didn’t cause the cancer. Mittens had his dental cleaning previous year and his gums and teeth (I was told) looked great, just a little tarter which was remove. This year during his dental cleaning, gums were swollen. I spoke to my new Vet about the swollen gums and he said that SCC can sometimes look like gingivitis and the vet who cleaned his teeth should have done a biopsy since Mittens was 11 years old at the time. There was not much could have been done with scc under the tongue but palliative care could have made last few months his life more comfortable.
 

louisstools

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A friend of mine's cat was just diagnosed with oral squamous cell carcinoma. This is about 2-3 months after a dental cleaning. As I was researching the disease, I've found a few more reports where someone's cat was diagnosed with mouth cancer shortly after getting their teeth cleaned. I know these are just anecdotes, but I am curious. Have you had a cat with SCC or some kind of mouth or jaw cancer? When was it diagnosed?
Yes. And year ago I took my boy in bc he was sneezing a lot. Scc had bore a hole in the roof of his mouth. For diagnosis he went to the state university (college cat!) and they did biopsy. He's had a cleaning early in the year and everything was fine. No dental issues to speak of.
 
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