Tumor vs abscess?

Thummy

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I had to have my beautiful boy, Tavi, put sleep this week. Beforehand the vet did an ultrasound and exam. When he was explaining how progressed his abdominal lymphoma was, he mentioned something about the abscess on Tavi’s head being another concern. I was taken aback, as he had told me several months ago, after an inconclusive fine needle aspiration, that the lump was most likely an aggressive tumor. He was put on steroids and it doubled in size within 6 months (became wider/longer). It was at the 6-month mark when Tavi was diagnosed with multiple abdominal tumors via ultrasound (most likely lymphoma). I was too grief-stricken to ask him why he called it an abscess in the moment and just told him we thought it was a tumor. He just nodded his head and said okay. I’m assuming he misspoke and didn’t read his chart, or simply forgot Tavi’s case. Or maybe looking at it again after 6 months of changes, it suddenly looked more like an abscess to him?

Does anybody with knowledge of abscesses or tumors know whether or not an abscess could stay firm and painless for over 6 months, with no fever or behavioral changes? And could the needle aspiration of an abscess produce no puss and be inconclusive? It didn’t bother him whatsoever, as I would touch it daily to check on it. This particular vet hadn’t seen him for the head tumor in 8 months, but did do his abdominal ultrasound 2 months ago and told me over the phone that it may have been the head tumor metastasizing. The other vet that did his 6 month check up thought that the head tumor was in the wrong place for lymph node cancer and that it may have been unrelated to the abdominal lymphoma. I’m starting to wonder if they had needlessly put him on 6 months of prednisolone. I wasn’t able to afford anything more than a needle biopsy, so the steroids were the only option. I’m going to ask about this when I bring my other cat in for her bloodwork in 2 weeks. I can’t bear to talk to a vet right now. I’m so heartbroken. In the meantime, the word abscess has been rolling around in my head while I’m trying to grieve. It was one more what-if that I didn’t really need right now.
 

FeebysOwner

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I am so sorry for what happened to Tavi. My condolences to you.

But, there are so many variables/scenarios/etc. that what you will hear from folks here are about their own stories of abscesses and tumors that will likely only add confusion to an already confusing situation. There will be no clear cut answers to be found through these stories, and odds are they will just add to your dismay and grief. I know we all want answers to help us understand what has happened to our beloved cats, but often there are no answers, just more questions.

Prednisolone is often used to combat cancer in cats, especially in cases where any kind of testing is inconclusive. So, I don't think it was un-needlessly given to Tavi.

You can continue to ask questions of the vet(s) about Tavi, but if you are in doubt about either of them, find another one for your other cat.

Again, I am so sorry, Bless Tavi and you.
 
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Thummy

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Thank you. Yes, it is very confusing. Tavi’s tumor-side cheek was also wet when they brought him back in the room for goodbyes, so the vet may have actually done an ultrasound on it. Could be why he was now calling it an abscess. But, if that’s the case, then why didn’t he just do an ultrasound on it 8 months ago? I’m going to call the vet to ask for clarification as soon as I feel I’m able to talk to someone without bursting into tears.
 

eevans3373

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I’m starting to wonder if they had needlessly put him on 6 months of prednisolone.
No. Prednisone is used to treat lymphoma.
Tavi’s tumor-side cheek was also wet when they brought him back in the room for goodbyes, so the vet may have actually done an ultrasound on it. Could be why he was now calling it an abscess. But, if that’s the case, then why didn’t he just do an ultrasound on it 8 months ago?
Speaking from experience, cancerous tumors will bleed and ooze. But be dry at other times.
I’m going to call the vet to ask for clarification as soon as I feel I’m able to talk to someone without bursting into tears.
Let it go. Sounds like he just misspoke. No amount of coulda, woulda, shoulda will bring your cat back.
 
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Thummy

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The thing about the facial tumor was that it didn’t give him any symptoms at all for 6 months while he was on the steroids. It never bled or oozed any liquid. He never winced when I touched it. The wetness on his cheek was from the peach-scented cleaner they used to remove the rubbing alcohol from the ultrasound. His belly was wet with it as well. Which is why I assumed they had also checked his facial tumor. It could just be that they accidentally got the cleaner there. I just thought it was odd that he called it an abscess seconds after examining him, after months of calling it an aggressive tumor. I’ve already left a message for the vet. If he did check it and saw it was more liquid than solid and possibly was an abscess, I’d love to know that info. No, it won’t bring him back, but there’s a question hanging around in my head and I don’t think some clarification is too much to ask. At least, I wouldn’t think.
 

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I think getting more information from the vet is the right thing to do. It might help to give you closure and, perhaps more importantly, assist you in deciding whether or not you want to continue to use this ver for your other cat.

Abscesses can happen because of tumors, and some can be in tissue underneath the skin surface, but none of that explains why the vet chose not to take any action with it. It is just a guess on my part, but they may have not thought it was wise to try to resolve it once it was discovered he had cancer that they deemed to be aggressive. I wouldn't be accusatory with the vet, just let them know that you just want the truth about their assessment and thoughts.

There should be vet notes and reports from the ultrasound and exam, as well as any other testing that was done. If you don't have copies of those, get them. It might be helpful to read through them before you talk to the vet.
 
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Thummy

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I think getting more information from the vet is the right thing to do. It might help to give you closure and, perhaps more importantly, assist you in deciding whether or not you want to continue to use this ver for your other cat.

Abscesses can happen because of tumors, and some can be in tissue underneath the skin surface, but none of that explains why the vet chose not to take any action with it. It is just a guess on my part, but they may have not thought it was wise to try to resolve it once it was discovered he had cancer that they deemed to be aggressive. I wouldn't be accusatory with the vet, just let them know that you just want the truth about their assessment and thoughts.

There should be vet notes and reports from the ultrasound and exam, as well as any other testing that was done. If you don't have copies of those, get them. It might be helpful to read through them before you talk to the vet.
Thank you for this advice. I appreciate it. Hearing their assessment and getting closure to this lingering question will certainly help me.
 
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Thummy

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Wanted to update this thread, since I just heard back from the Vet’s assistant. He did do the ultrasound on the lump and said he could only see that it was a mass, but couldn’t be specific. My guess is that he didn’t read Tavi’s record about the inconclusive cyctology from September and the fact that it was being treated for months as an aggressive tumor. So he just guessed it was an abscess in the moment. He did write “abscess/tumor” on the final report. So, nothing learned, but at least I know for sure that an ultrasound was done.
 
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