At this crazy time, our 14-year-old cat has developed a few lumps on her belly under the skin. Now, more than ever, we are utilizing online diagnostics and relayed it to our vet for telemedicine. From what we can tell, and it was confirmed by our vet, it looks like the cat could have breast cancer.

Clearly, we are quite concerned and want to do what we can for her but we are conflicted at the cost of doing anything and the prognosis of a long-term positive outcome, especially given the fact that we are not working right now.

Our vet talked about several options from x-rays to biopsy to removal of the masses. What would you suggest we do at this time? We were told that our vet is only doing essential services but that they would take care of this should we choose to move forward. Can this wait at all and, if it is breast cancer, how important is urgent action?

It sounds as if you took advantage of all available tools at your disposal to come up with a preliminary diagnosis pending objective data. It is gratifying to hear that you also reached out to your veterinarian and used the rapidly growing and developing tool known as telemedicine. I would take advantage of working with your veterinarian, letting them know whatever limitations you might have, especially financial.

The typical diagnostics, in no particular order, would be bloodwork, radiographs of the full body looking at the masses and the chest cavity for possible metastases, an aspirate of the masses for a preliminary idea of possible malignancy, and then cost benefit as it relates to mastectomy and biopsy.

At this time, I would start with a needle aspirate of the growths and then proceed from there. This is a much less costly starting point and then depending on the results, you can make a decision based on prognosis and costs.

There is a great deal of literature regarding how long a cat will survive with breast cancer after diagnosis and the different modalities available including surgery, chemotherapy and more. The most important determinant on survival time is the size of the masses. I suggest that the sooner you get to addressing what you have found, the better off she will be since you may get to things before the growths get any bigger. Good luck!