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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

On-line version ISSN 2224-9435
Print version ISSN 1019-9128


VAN DER WEYDEN, Louise et al. Successful treatment of early cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma with hypofractionated radiation therapy in an African lion (Panthera leo). J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. [online]. 2021, vol.92, n.1, pp.1-6. ISSN 2224-9435.

Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a slow growing but locally invasive neoplasm, most commonly caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Whilst SCC accounts for 15% of skin tumours in domesticated cats, cutaneous SCC in non-domesticated felids (apart from captive snow leopards) appears to be uncommon, with only three reports in the literature to date. In this report, a captive African lion (Panthera leo) presented with two ulcerative lesions on the nasal planum. Histopathology of the lesions revealed epidermal keratinocyte dysplasia and neoplastic basal- and supra-basal epithelial cells with dyskeratosis and evidence of basement membrane breaching and dermal invasion, consistent with a diagnosis of SCC. There was also evidence of laminar fibrosis and inflammation of the subjacent dermis suggesting that the SCC most likely resulted from UV-induced neoplastic transformation of the epidermal squamous epithelium following actinic keratosis. The lion was treated with hypofractionated radiation therapy and remained in remission until his death (euthanised 17 months later because of age-related chronic renal failure). This is the first report of cutaneous SCC in a lion with evidence of actinic damage and resolution after radiation therapy.

Keywords : lion; skin; cancer; radiation therapy; actinic damage; laminar fibrosis; UV.

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