Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a common cutaneous neoplasia of cats. In humans, dermatologists treat nonmelanoma skin cancers using curettage and diathermy, in which the tumor is scraped with a curette to remove friable tissue that sloughs easily until more resistant tissue is reached and pinpoint bleeding occurs. Diathermy of the entire base and circumference of the defect are then applied to a depth of 1–2 mm to extend the treated margin. Application of this technique was investigated and owner acceptance assessed regarding postoperative care, comfort, and cosmetic outcome. A single treatment with 3 cycles of curettage and diathermy was performed in 34 cats with actinic dysplasia and superficial SCC involving less than half of the nasal planum.

Results showed 94% nonrecurrence 12 months posttreatment, a rate similar to other superficial nasal SCC treatments. The technique produces tissue fragments, which may hamper histopathologic diagnosis. Tumor depth and margins could not be evaluated, and the severity of the lesion did not always correlate with the histological diagnosis. Regarding appearance, 79% of owners reported their cats looked “normal” or “almost normal.” Also, 91% of owners considered postoperative care to be “no problem at all” or “fairly easy.”

This novel technique can be used in private practice, as it does not require complicated equipment, multiple anesthetic episodes, or specialized techniques. Other advantages include reduced financial burden when compared with other palliative techniques, minimal tissue invasion, and aesthetically acceptable outcome. Cats with lesions involving >50% of the nasal planum, deep tissue involvement, and/or distortion of the nose may not be good candidates. Alternative treatments (eg, nasal planum resection, combined intralesional carboplatin and radiotherapy) may be better for extensive SCC in the nasal planum. Practitioners in areas with bountiful sunlight should consider this technique, as it may reduce patient morbidity or mortality.—Heather Troyer, DVM, DABVP, CVA

Curettage and diathermy: A treatment for feline nasal planum actinic dysplasia and superficial squamous cell carcinoma. Jarrett RH, Norman EJ, Gibson IR, Jarrett P. J SMALL ANIM PRACT 54:92-98, 2013.

This capsule is part of the One Health Initiative.