Cancer in Cats – Types, Symptoms and Treatment
When we talk about cancer in cats we are referring to a set of diseases that cause the uncontrolled division of cells in different parts of the body, provoking, in most cases, the appearance of a tumor. Due to a better quality of life of domestic cats, which implies a greater longevity, the cases of cancer in cats are more and more frequent.
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In this article of YourCatCareguide we will explain to you everything you need to know about cancer in cats , reviewing the different types of cancer that exist, the most frequent symptoms, diagnostic methods and different treatments.
Cancer in cats
Cancer is a term used to describe a set of diseases. They all have in common that the cells of certain parts of the body grow and divide without uncontrolled , which causes an expansion of the surrounding tissue. Some types of cancer form lumps that we know as “tumors” or “neoplasias” that are actually an accumulation of cells. Others, such as leukemia (blood cancer) do not form solid tumors.
There are several types of neoplasms , such as those commonly known as “benign” tumors that do not invade tissues and do not spread to other parts of the body. On the other hand, we find “malignant” tumors, those that extend through the body, forming what are known as “metastases” .
It is not always possible to know the causes that cause cancer in cats, but the most common are:
- Genetic predisposition
- Exposure to certain factors such as environmental fumes and toxins
- Viral infections
Breast cancer in cats, lymphoma in cats and other cancers
Unfortunately, there is a wide variety of types of cancer that can affect our felines. So let’s give you some examples of the most common types of cancer in cats and their characteristics:
- Lymphoma : The cancer lymphoma in cats is one of the most frequent and originates in lymphocytes, ie in blood, bone marrow, lymph nodes or lymph tissues. It can appear anywhere or in multiple places at the same time. The onset of this cancer is strongly associated with infection by the feline leukemia virus and the feline immunodeficiency virus .
- Squamous cell carcinoma : This type of cancer affects the dermis and may go unnoticed in its initial phase, being mistaken for a wound that has not just healed. It usually affects the nose, ears and it is not usual to have metastases throughout the rest of the body.
- Breast carcinoma : Breast cancer in cats is common in uncastrated females, although it may also occur in castrated females and males. It usually manifests through nodules in one or several mammary glands.
- Intestinal adenocarcinoma : Intestinal cancer in cats can affect the large and small intestine, invading the intestine in an extensive and rapid way. Clinical signs such as loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea are common.
- Soft tissue sarcoma : Also known as fibrosarcoma, this type of cancer originates from fibroblasts, usually under the skin. Firm lumps that increase in size may be observed.
- Osteosarcoma : This type of bone cancer in cats is quite common. The most common symptoms are the obvious signs of pain , difficulty walking and fractures.
- Mastocytoma : it originates in the mast cells, cells that we find throughout the body. It can present in a single mass or in the form of multiple nodules, sometimes accompanied by an ulcer.
Symptoms of cancer in cats
As you read, there are different types of cancer in cats, which can affect different tissues of the body, which causes clinical signs very different from each other and difficult to recognize. In addition, at an early stage, the cancer may develop slowly, causing a symptomatology similar to that of other diseases, making it difficult to detect this disease quickly. Age is related to this problem, with older cats being more predisposed to cancer.
The symptoms of cancer in most common cats are:
- Appearance of protuberances in the body
- Wounds that do not heal
- Bad breath
- Difficulty eating
- Intermittent or continuous salivation
- Snoring and coughing
- Respiratory sounds
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Abdominal distension
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
If your cat has one or more of the above mentioned clinical signs, it is advisable to visit your veterinarian as a matter of urgency , as the sooner the problem is diagnosed, the better your cat’s prognosis.
How to diagnose cancer in cats
If you suspect that your cat may have cancer, it is best to go to the veterinary center to perform the different diagnostic tests. It is important to note that the physical examination is not always enough to diagnose a disease, so the veterinarian may have to resort to different methods.
An ultrasound, a blood test, and an x-ray are commonly performed to determine the location and extent of the tumor. To confirm the diagnosis, it is essential to analyze the affected tissue through a biopsy, that is, a tissue extraction and subsequent microscopic analysis. Depending on the type of cancer and its location, it may be necessary to perform more complex tests, such as an electrocardiogram, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or CT scan.
Does cancer in cats have a cure?
Although it depends on several factors, cancer in cats can be treated if it is detected early and if appropriate treatments are done. Correct treatment can significantly increase feline life expectancy. Even so, it is important to note that not all cats respond positively to treatment and even in some cases the veterinarian may choose not to treat the animal when his quality of life is compromised, for example. In any case, it should be the expert to guide and guide you for the best decision.
The three types of cancer treatment in most common cats are:
- Surgery : it is the most used method in the presence of cancer and may have different goals. Your veterinarian will decide whether to bet on the total elimination of the tumor, partial elimination of the tumor in combination with a chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment or even elimination of the tumor for the sole purpose of improving the quality of life of the animal. The surgery always involves some risks for the cat and the use of analgesics and other postoperative care may be necessary.
- Radiation therapy : Not all veterinary centers have this method of treatment and your veterinarian may choose to refer you to another center. This method involves applying external radiation to the tumor, which have the ability to kill tumor cells, though also some healthy cells. it is necessary to have several sessions and the treatment usually lasts between 3 to 5 weeks. The most common side effects are vomiting, nausea, loss of hair and skin irritation, which can be controlled with the use of medication.
- Chemotherapy : We currently find a wide variety of anticancer drugs that act by attacking tumor cells, whether in the form of tablets or injection. Side effects of chemotherapy may include hair loss, bone marrow suppression or gastrointestinal irritation.
Cats that have a cancer treatment need special care to maintain their quality of life. It may be helpful to note daily the symptoms and behavior of the cat to help the veterinarian adjust the treatment.
Among the care we emphasize a quality diet , ensure areas of comfort for the feline, use of medication for pain (analgesia), medication for secondary bacterial infections (antibiotics) and anti-inflammatory.
This article is purely informative, in YourCatCareguide.com.br we do not have the capacity to prescribe veterinary treatments nor to make any type of diagnosis. We suggest that you bring your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or malaise.
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