By: Katten TrimSalon
Feline bowenoid in situ carcinoma (BISC) is a rare premalignant neoplasm found in cats. This condition is similar to Bowen’s disease in humans. BISC is characterized by irregular epidermal and follicular hyperplasia with hyperkeratosis and full-thickness epidermal dysplasia. While the exact cause of BISC is unknown, it is believed to be unrelated to sun exposure. Papillomavirus (PV) antigen has been found in a significant number of affected cats, but its exact role in the pathogenesis of BISC is still unclear. Additionally, concurrent Demodex infestation has been reported, possibly due to a weakened immune system. BISC primarily affects thick-haired areas such as the head, neck, dorsal thorax ventrum, and legs. The lesions are multiple, irregularly shaped, scaled, and crusted with peripheral pigmentation. In some cases, the lesions may have protruding keratin horns.
Early diagnosis of BISC is crucial to prevent the spread of the neoplasm to other organs. Biopsy and histopathology are the most definitive methods for diagnosis. Shaving the cat’s hair around the lesions is recommended to avoid missing early, mild lesions. Topical treatment with imiquimod cream, which is used in humans for Bowen’s disease, is not practical for cats due to their thick hair coat. Imiquimod does not effectively clear the lesions in cats, allowing the disease to progress into squamous cell carcinoma. Laser ablation with a CO2 laser is a noninvasive and effective treatment modality for BISC. Conventional surgery is not a recommended option for BISC due to the multiple lesions. The CO2 laser allows precise control of the depth of ablation, eliminating only the affected part of the epidermis and leaving the normal underlying skin intact. The cosmetic outcome is generally excellent, with complete regrowth of both hair and epithelium from the remaining hair follicles.
It is important to note that BISC is caused by a PV that remains in the skin. New lesions can develop over time, with the usual recurrence rate being once per year and fewer lesions than during the initial procedure. Regular follow-up appointments are essential to detect and treat any recurrences promptly. Removal of BISC lesions keeps affected cats normal in their later years and prevents the development of severe and fatal squamous cell carcinoma.
Case Study: A Nine-Year-Old Domestic Shorthaired Cat
A nine-year-old domestic shorthaired cat presented with multiple crusted, erosive, and hyperpigmented cutaneous lesions on the head, abdomen, hind limbs, and perianal area. Histopathological examination confirmed the diagnosis of BISC.
Laser Surgery: A Safe and Effective Treatment
CO2 laser surgery is considered the preferred treatment for BISC. The lesions were ablated using the VetScalpel laser equipped with the wide ablation nozzle. Various laser settings were used depending on the stage of ablation. The procedure was time-efficient and noninvasive, with minimal bleeding encountered. The patient experienced no major complications during or after the surgery.
Postoperative Care and Recovery
Postoperative care involved pain medication for the first one to two weeks as needed. Most cats do not require pain medication for more than three days. The surgical sites typically heal within two to three weeks, with excellent cosmetic results.
In conclusion, CO2 laser ablation is an effective treatment option for cats with BISC. It removes the cancerous lesions early, prevents the development of invasive squamous cell carcinomas, and maintains the normal function and appearance of the skin. If your cat is showing symptoms of BISC, contact Katten TrimSalon to schedule an appointment with our experienced veterinary team.
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