Lymphoma in Cats: Lymphoma or lymphosarcoma is the most common type of cancer in cats. Which is characterized by abnormal proliferation of malignant lymphocytes. The incidence of this cancer has been observed to be higher in cats than dogs. It can affect any cat, regardless of race and gender. Typically, lymphoma is classified into two categories, high grade or lymphoblastic and low grade or lymphocytic.
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Based on the location, the cancer is classified as, multicenter, mediastinal, gastrointestinal and extranodal lymphoma. Multicenter cancer form involves multiple lymph nodes and can affect multiple organs. Mediastinal lymphoma in cats usually affects the lymph nodes located in the thorax and thymus.
while the extranodal form involves the central nervous system, skin, heart, kidneys and eyes. On the other hand, the gastrointestinal form of the condition affects the digestive tract. Intestinal lymphoma in cats is one of the most common types of feline lymphoma.
Causes of Lymphoma in Cats
Feline lymphoma have been found to be associated with an infection caused by feline leukemia virus. This virus is usually associated with the multicentric form of the disease. Earlier, the feline leukemia virus is the main factor responsible for the higher incidence of lymphoma in young cats. However, with the increasing use of vaccination, the incidence of this cancer in young cats has reduced significantly. Earlier, feline leukemia virus accounted for about 70% of all cases of lymphoma in cats.
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However, nowadays, only 20% of the total cases of feline lymphoma have been found to have an association with the feline leukemia virus. Another virus, known as feline immunodeficiency virus may also increase the risk of lymphoma in cats. Other factors that are thought to play an important role in the development of lymphoma include, genetic predisposition as well as exposure to carcinogens like, cigarette smoke.
The 4 Types of Lymphoma in Cats Which are More Common:
There are four types of lymphomas in cats, which are very common and they will be discussed briefly below.
1. Mediastinal lymphoma:
This affects the thymus gland and lymph nodes of the mediastinum. Which are the structures located in the front of the chest, that is, in front of the heart, this type of lymphoma can grow a lot. Which makes it possible to occupy a large part of the thoracic cavity, causing respiratory problems in the cat.
This type of tumor can compress the esophagus, which is the tuno that joins the mouth with the stomach. So it can cause difficulty swallowing and the animal ends up regurgitating the food that is ingested. You can also observe the presence of fluid in the chest, which ends up worsening respiratory difficulties.
The cats that present this type of lymphomas are very young, they do not even reach two years of age, here the races like the Siamese and the Oriental are more prone to suffer this type of disease, however, they respond very well to the treatment and the prognosis is quite encouraging.
2. Gastrointestinal lymphoma:
This can affect any part of the intestinal tract, the stomach, the small intestine, any. The tumor can be of the focal type, that is, one or more large masses or diffuse which is a generalized thickening of the intestine, in many cases we can find affected some abdominal organs, among the symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, loss of weight, and changes in the animal’s appetite.
The appearance of this type of lymphoma can be observed in middle-aged and older cats , this is classified depending largely on the size of their cells, ie, small, medium and large, and both treatment and prognosis will depend on the place in where it is, if it is diffuse or focal and if it is a large or small cell lymphoma.
3. Multicentric lymphoma:
In this type of situation, the presence of tumors is observed in more than one site, so it can involve multiple lymph nodes, such as those located under the jaw, behind the ears, or in the groin.
The symptoms can be varied, however the most common are the presence of lumps in the areas described above, you can also see the loss of appetite. It greatly affects cats between 3 to 5 years of age and may be associated with FeLV infection.
4. Miscellaneous lymphoma
They are one of the most common lymphomas in cats since they encompass all those forms of lymphoma whose location is not the intestinal tract, nor the hematopoietic or lymphoid tissues.
In this type of situation, the most affected areas are the central nervous system, the kidneys, the skin, and the nasal cavity, it is very common in older cats, which can present an important nasal discharge.
The prognosis in this type of lymphoma in cats, especially for the nasal is usually very encouraging, however, for the other types of lymphomas varies according to the affected area, the age of cats affected with this type of disease ranges from 5 and 9 years old.
Remember that pets are part of our family, we must take care of them and love them, respect them and above all have them under a lot of responsibility, since they depend on us for many things, responsible ownership is extremely important. Adopt not buy!
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Lymphoma in cats Symptoms:
Lymphoma can affect multiple organs including, liver, spleen, central nervous system, kidneys and bone marrow. The symptoms of the disease, therefore, depend to a large extent on the organ or organs particularly affected.
Nevertheless, the most commonly observed symptoms in feline lymphoma are;
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy in cats
- Progressive weight loss
- Diarrhea and vomiting in cats
- Increased urination (when the kidneys are affected)
- Difficulty breathing the condition of the poor coat
- Palate mucosa
Many, many problems and diseases will cause the same symptoms so they are not specific to cancer. Keep in mind that the first three signs – decreased appetite, lethargy and weight loss – occur in cats that have almost any disease.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Lymphoma in Cats
The diagnosis of lymphoma in the cat begins with physical examinations, which reveals swollen lymph nodes or swelling of the gastrointestinal tract. Other tests that are performed for the accurate diagnosis of the condition are complete blood cell counting test, chemistry panel, X-ray, and ultrasound internal organs and fine needle aspiration or biopsy.
Chemotherapy is the most common treatment option for feline lymphoma. The chemotherapeutic drugs that are generally used for the treatment of lymphoma in cats include cyclophosphamide, prednisone, doxorubicin, and vincristine. When the tumor is localized, it can be treated with radiotherapy too. Similarly, surgery and laser treatment can also be performed, if the tumor is located at a particular site only. Immunotherapy is another treatment option available for the treatment of lymphoma.
The prognosis of the disease depends on the early treatment, as well as the location of the tumor. It also depends on the type of lymphoma. Usually, low-grade lymphoma has a better prognosis than high grade lymphoma. The prognosis was generally considered good for young cats. But, cats infected with feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus showed poor response to cancer treatment with low survival rates.
In general, cats with lymphoma can survive for up to 4 to 6 months with proper treatment, while in some cases, some cats may experience a remission of the period of 2 years or more. However, the most important part is the early diagnosis of the disease, which can sometimes become a little difficult because the lymphoma symptoms in cats are not very accurate.
Thus, homeowners must remain alert to the disease and report any type of cat health problem, especially unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite and persistent diarrhea and vomiting to the veterinarian, to exclude the possibility of serious diseases like lymphoma or lymphosarcoma.