Successful treatment of early cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma with hypofractionated radiation therapy in an African lion (Panthera leo)

Authors

  • Louise van der Weyden Wellcome Genome Institute
  • Nicolize O’Dell University of Pretoria
  • Alida Avenant University of Pretoria
  • Paolo Pazzi University of Pretoria
  • Katja N Koeppel University of Pretoria

Abstract

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

Author Biographies

Louise van der Weyden, Wellcome Genome Institute

Wellcome Genome Institute, Wellcome Sanger Campus, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Nicolize O’Dell, University of Pretoria

Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort, South Africa and Centre for Veterinary Wildlife Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria,
Onderstepoort, South Africa

Alida Avenant, University of Pretoria

Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort, South Africa

Paolo Pazzi, University of Pretoria

Department of Companion Animal Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort, South Africa

Katja N Koeppel, University of Pretoria

Centre for Veterinary Wildlife Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort, South Africa and Production Animal Science, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria,
Onderstepoort, South Africa

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Published

2021-12-09

Issue

Section

Case Report