Lymphoma Cancer in Cats

Animals such as cats and dogs share many traits with humans, and unfortunately their susceptibility to certain forms of cancer is one of them. The most common type of cancer found in cats is Lymphoma, which is a type of malignant cancer that affects lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell and they play a very important part in the immune defence system or vertebrae animals; they can be divided into B-cells, T-cells and Natural Killer-cells, each of which may be affected by various types of lymphoma cancer in cats and humans alike. Lymphoma can affect cats of any gender and age, though is more common in older felines.

Types of Lymphoma Cancer in Cats

There are several types of lymphoma that can affect cats, and some of the most common types are presented briefly below:

  • Gastrointestinal Lymphoma – This is the general term used to describe lymphoma in cats that is found in any area of the gastrointestinal tract; that is, in the large or small intestine, stomach and so on.  This particular type of lymphoma is more likely to affect slightly older cats, generally between the ages of 5 and 9 years.
  • Thymic Lymphoma - Most common in very young felines, this type of tumour can grow very aggressively and fill the front of the chest cavity; this may result in difficulty swallowing or breathing. It affects the Thymus gland, which is located in front of the heart.
  • Multicentric Lymphoma –Multicentric means that the tumours may be found in several sites, rather than being limited to one specific area.  This can affect cats of any age, but has been shown to be more common in those aged between 5 and 9 years of age.

Symptoms of Lymphoma Cancer in Cats

Cats show similar symptoms to both dogs and humans when affected by lymphoma, but often more visibly. These include the swelling of lymph nodes, which is considered a primary symptom, but may also present one or several of the following:

  • Loss of appetite – which may or may not be linked to difficulty swallowing, which is also a symptom in its own right
  • Lack of energy/lethargy
  • Sudden and extreme weight loss
  • Loss of hair
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting

While these may be signs of lymphoma cancer in cats, it is important to remember that only a trained veterinarian can determine for certain whether or not your cat is suffering from cancer. It is thus important that you consult one should you have any reason to believe that such may be the case.

Treatment

As with dogs and humans, the most common treatment of lymphoma cancer in cats is chemotherapy. Most cats do respond well to the treatment initially, and the cancer will often go into remission, however completely fighting off the cancer is rate; the lifespan of most cats who receive full treatment will be increased by some 6 months, while 1/3 of cats will live up to two years longer. If the lymphoma is left untreated, the lymphoma will often claim the cats life within as little as 1-2 months.

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