Reptiles get cancerous tumors in numerous locations in their body. This page describes how we treated an oral tumor, called a squamous cell carcinoma, in a Tegu. Squamous cell carcinomas also occur in mammals, especially the ears of white cats that are exposed to the sun. We have a page describing this disease in a cat- click here to link to it.

Click on any photo to enlarge it.


This is the Tegu upon presentation to our office. This growth had been present for several weeks according to the owner. In reality, it was probably growing on the inside of the mouth for a much longer period of time.

Tegu head with large red mass growing from the right side of the mouth

This large of a mass was interfering with its ability to eat

We anesthetized it (you can see the breathing tube in its windpipe) to assess the degree of involvement.

Open mouth of Tegu showing extent of tumor into the back of the oral cavity

As expected it went deep into the oral cavity.

We used cautery to remove it since this location has an extensive blood supply and cautery minimizes bleeding both during and after the procedure. The appearance of the mouth is much nicer with the tumor removed.

Tumor removed as much as possible and the mouth appearance is normal

Side view appearance of the mouth after removing as much tumor as possible

Front view of the mouth showing a normal appearance

Front view appearance of the mouth after removing as much tumor as possible


The cancerous tissue was submitted to the pathologist for analysis. It is a squamous cell carcinoma, a malignant tumor. Due to the aggressive nature of this tumor there is a high chance that it will recur in this spot, although usually it does not spread to the rest of the body.

Report from pathologist confirming SCC

This is the actual report we received from our pathologist. It is from a doctor that specializes in reading tissue samples from reptiles.

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