Cancer is a significant concern for many cat owners. Cat cancer can significantly shorten the life of a cat. Since not all tumors are cancerous, a cat owner should not panic at the sight of a tumor. However, the cat owner should have a cat with a tumor or any signs of cancer examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Cancer is responsible for approximately fifty percent of pet deaths. Similar to cancer in humans, causes of cat cancer are not well understood.
Many of the signs and symptoms of cat cancer can be caused by other diseases. It is important for cat owners to have the cat properly diagnosed by a veterinarian at the onset of symptoms. Often, the faster that the cat is diagnosed with cancer and treatment is started, the better the cat’s prognosis is.
Abnormal and persistent swelling and weight loss are common signs of cancer in cats. Loss of appetite, stiffness or lameness, a wound that will not heal or has abnormal discharge, and difficulty urinating, defecating, breathing, or swallowing are signs of cat cancer.
There are several different types of cat cancer. Skin cancer can be caused by frequent or severe sunburns especially for white cats. Bone cancer, lymphoma, and mammary cancer are examples of other types of cat cancer.
Cancer at the site where the cat received vaccinations has gotten more attention recently. Cancer from vaccines is referred to as Vaccine-associated sarcoma (VAS). If a lump develops anywhere on the cat including where the cat was injected with vaccines, the cat should be examined by a veterinarian.
More common in cats than dogs, lymphoma is a type of cancer that attacks the lymph nodes. Lymphoma is most common in cats with feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Not all cats with lymphoma are feline leukemia positive.
A veterinarian considers the type and severity of the cancer to determine the best treatment for the cat cancer. Blood tests, biopsies, ultrasound, physical exams, and x-rays may be used to diagnose cat cancer.
Methods of treatment for cat cancer include chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Pain management is also part of cat cancer treatment. The risks of some types of cat cancer can be reduced with preventative measures. Excessive sun exposure and sunburns increase the risk of skin cancer especially for white cats. If a cat is spayed while it is young, the cat’s risk of mammary cancer is significantly decreased.