Lymphoma in Cats

Written by elizabeth maginnis
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Lymphoma in Cats

Lymphoma, a form of cancer characterised by abnormal growths of lymph tissue, can develop almost anywhere due to the presence of lymph tissue throughout your cat's body. The disease's location frequently corresponds to its cause and can directly affect symptoms, treatment and prognosis. Lymphoma occurs more often in cats than it does in humans or dogs and most often in cats suffering from feline leukaemia virus. Chemotherapy has success rate in treating this disease and lengthening the patient's life. However, the chance of a good prognosis drops sharply if your cat is also affected by feline leukaemia.


Although capable of developing in different forms, feline lymphoma most commonly appears in either multicentric, mediastinal or alimentary form. Multicentric lymphoma affects multiple lymph nodes and multiple organs and typically appears in cats infected with feline leukaemia. Prognosis for this form of lymphoma is poor. Mediastinal feline lymphoma also appears in feline leukaemia patients and primarily affects the chest cavity and thymus, and related lymph nodes. Alimentary feline lymphoma affects the digestive tract and related lymph nodes. This form is less common in feline leukaemia patients.


Lymphoma symptoms in cats tend to be more severe than those in dogs. Whereas dogs will develop swollen lymph nodes, cats can become physically ill. Cats suffering from the alimentary form of lymphoma will develop a rough look to their coats and experience appetite and weight loss, vomiting and diarrhoea. Those suffering from mediastinal lymphoma exhibit respiratory distress and retain fluid in their lungs. If your cat develops lymphoma in its kidneys, the disease will manifest itself in increased water consumption and more frequent urination. Lymphoma patients also infected with feline leukaemia will have pale mucous membranes due to the development of anaemia.


A thorough physical examination, X-rays and ultrasound will reveal the presence and location of swollen lymph nodes and organs. Tissue biopsies are examined for the presence of immature lymphoid cells, which are indicative of lymphoma. Blood chemistry tests can reveal organ involvement and development of anaemia, and are most helpful for the cat suffering from multicentric lymphoma and feline leukaemia. Typically two types of tests -- chemistry panel and complete blood count -- are administered. A chemistry panel checks blood liquid for electrolytes (elements of the blood that are critical to sustaining life, such as potassium, calcium, sodium, chloride and phosphorous) and several chemical constituents in the blood that can reveal the presence of diseases of the liver, kidneys and pancreas. A complete blood count test analyses a blood sample, minus the liquid, for the quantity of red and white blood cells.


Chemotherapy is effective against feline lymphoma, and surgery and radiation are also effective if the tumour is easily accessible and confined to one location. There are supportive measures to help your cat throughout the treatment process. Feed your cat only fresh and unprocessed foods -- raw and organic whenever possible -- to limit the amount of additives and preservatives his body has to process. Avoid vaccinations while your cat is undergoing cancer treatment to limit stress to her system. Give Vitamin C daily to your cat, 1g for every 6.8 Kilogram of body weight, divided between morning and evening doses.


Prognosis depends on whether the cat also is infected with feline leukaemia, the location of the tumour or tumours and how early the disease is diagnosed. Feline leukaemia patients generally have a lower treatment response and shorter survival time. A large majority of non-leukaemia patients have a high rate of response to chemotherapy treatment and have been known to go into a remission of two years or longer. Untreated cats usually live only a matter of weeks.

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