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What is a synovial sarcoma?

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Q. My mother has been told that her cat has a “synovial sarcoma”.   What is this and how can it be treated?

A. A Synovial sarcoma is a malignant type of tumour that originates within a joint and is diagnosed by x-rays followed by biopsy.

These tumours can cause considerable bone and cartilage destruction and can spread via the blood to other organs.  

Usually the animal has a chronic persistent lameness, as there is usually pain on manipulation of the joint.  The animal may lick at the area and cause skin infection.  

Surgery to remove the tumour may be possible if the tumour is caught early but more commonly an amputation of the limb would be required.  Other types of cancer therapy are possible but generally not very effective for this type of tumour.  Be assured that in general cats cope well with only 3 limbs – and they can often still chase and catch mice!

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