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Cancer in cats – Types, symptoms and treatment

When we talk about cancer in cats we refer to a set of diseases that cause the uncontrolled division of cells in different parts of the body, thus causing in most cases the appearance of a tumor. Due to a better quality of life of domestic cats, which in turn implies greater longevity, cases of cancer in felines are becoming more frequent.

In this article we will show you everything you need to know about cancer in cats, reviewing the different types that exist, the most frequent symptoms, the diagnostic methods and the different types of treatment.

Cancer in cats

El cancer is a term used to describe a set of diseases. All of them have in common that the cells of certain parts of the body they grow and divide without stopping, which causes an expansion towards the surrounding tissues. Some types of cancer also form bulges that we know as “tumor” or “neoplasia” and that are actually an accumulation of cells.

There various types of neoplasms, like those commonly known as “benign” tumors, which are those that do not invade tissue and that do not spread to other parts of the body. On the other hand, we find the “malignant” tumors, those that do spread throughout the body, forming what is known as “metastasis”.

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
  • Viral infections

Types of cancer in cats

We currently know a wide variety of cancers that can affect our cats, so, we will name the most common types of cancer in cats and their characteristics:

  • Lymphoma: it is considered the most frequent cancer in cats and it originates in a lymphocyte, either from the blood, the bone marrow, the lymph nodes or the lymphoid tissues. It appears anywhere or at several times and may be caused by the Feline Leukemia Virus or the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: This type of cancer affects the dermis and, in the beginning, it usually goes unnoticed, becoming confused with a wound that does not finish healing. It usually affects the nose or ears and does not usually spread through the body forming metastases.
  • Mammary carcinoma: usually observed in uncastrated females, although sterilized females and males may also suffer from it. Nodules and swelling are observed in one or several mammary glands.
  • Intestinal adenocarcinoma: they affect the large and small intestine, invading the intestine extensively and quickly, causing the animal to lose its appetite, lose weight and suffer from vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Soft tissue sarcomaAlso known as fibrosarcoma, this type of cancer forms in fibroblasts, usually under the skin. Firm nodules are observed that increase in size.
  • Osteosarcoma: this type of cancer affects the bones and it is common for the cat that suffers it to show evident signs of pain, difficulty walking or suffering from fractures.
  • Mastocytoma: originates from mast cells, cells that are found throughout the body. It can present as a single mass or in the form of multiple nodules, sometimes accompanied by an ulcer.

Cancer symptoms in cats

As you have seen, there are many different cancers, which in turn can affect various tissues of the body, which causes the signs of cancer in cats to be very varied each other and hard to recognize. In addition, initially, the cancer develops slowly, causing a common symptomatology with common ailments, which make it difficult to detect early. We can also add that the most affected cats are usually those of advanced age.

The most frequent symptoms of cancer in cats are:

  • Appearance of lumps
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Wounds that do not heal
  • Wound ulceration
  • Halitosis
  • Difficulty eating
  • Intermittent or continuous salivation
  • Limp
  • Snoring and / or cough
  • Breathing when breathing
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal distension
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Depression

In the presence of one or several of the mentioned symptoms, it is recommended go to the vet urgently, since the rapidity in the detection of the disease can improve the prognosis of the feline remarkably.

How is cancer diagnosed in cats?

With the suspicion that a cat may suffer from cancer, the most advisable is go to the veterinary center to perform different tests for the diagnosis. It is very important to emphasize that the physical examination is not always enough to diagnose the disease, so it requires the use of various methods.

An ultrasound, a blood test and / or the use of x-rays to detect the location and spread of the tumor is usually performed, but must be confirmed by the suspicious tissue examination. To do this, a biopsy is performed, that is, a tissue extraction, which will then be analyzed under a microscope. Depending on the type of cancer and its location, it may be necessary to perform more complex tests, such as an electrocardiogram, an MRI, or a CT scan.

Cancer treatment in cats

Although it will depend on several factors, cancer in cats can be treated if it is detected promptly and the appropriate techniques are carried out. That can significantly lengthen your life expectancy. Still, it should be noted that not all felines respond positively to treatment and that even in some cases the veterinarian may suggest not treating the animal, when their quality of life is compromised, for example. In any case, it is the specialist who should guide and guide us to make the best decision.

Cancer treatment it will vary depending on the type of cancer, the location, the presence or absence of metastasis, the economic possibilities of the owner, the quality of life of the feline, the age of the feline or the equipment available to the specialist.

The three types of cancer treatment in cats are:

  • Surgery: it is the most used method in the presence of cancer and may have different objectives. Our veterinarian will decide if it is advisable to bet on the total elimination of the tumor, the partial elimination of the tumor in combination with a chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment or the elimination of the tumor in order to improve the quality of life of the cat. It should be noted that surgery carries risks for the cat and that later it may be necessary to use analgesics and post-operative care.
  • Radiotherapy: not all veterinary centers have this method of treatment and it may happen that the specialist referred us to another center. In radiation therapy external radiation is applied to the tumor, which has the ability to kill tumor cells, but also healthy cells. Several sessions are required, which can extend the treatment from 3 to 5 weeks. The most frequent side effects are vomiting, nausea, hair loss and skin irritation, which can be controlled with the use of medication.
  • Chemotherapy: currently we find a wide variety of anticancer drugs that act by attacking tumor cells, either in the form of pills or injection. The side effects of chemotherapy can be hair loss, bone marrow suppression or gastrointestinal irritation.

Cats that maintain cancer treatment will need special cares to maintain their quality of life. It may be useful to record the symptoms and behavior of the feline on a daily basis, with the objective of helping the veterinarian to improve the treatment.

Among the cares we highlight a quality food, ensure comfort zones for the feline, the use of pain medication (analgesics), medication to combat secondary infections (antibiotics) and medication for swelling (anti-inflammatories).

This article is merely informative, in .com we do not have the faculty to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Cancer in cats – Types, symptoms and treatment, we recommend that you enter in our section of hereditary diseases.

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