Below is information about some common types of cancer that occur in cats. Please remember this list is not exhaustive, so if you believe your cat has cancer, it is important to talk with a veterinary oncologist. Our team is here to help you with additional education, as well as diagnosis and treatment.
Small Cell Gastrointestinal (GI) Lymphoma
Small cell GI lymphoma is the most common form of lymphoma in cats. Warning signs of this disease include decreased appetite, diarrhea or soft stools, vomiting and weight loss. Because there are many problems besides lymphoma that can cause these signs in cats, the diagnostic work-up of cats with these signs often includes checking bloodwork and an abdominal ultrasound, and may also include an ultrasound-guided aspirate of any abnormal ultrasound findings or biopsy obtained via endoscopy or surgery.
Once a diagnosis of small cell GI lymphoma is made, the UW Veterinary Care Oncology Team will talk with you about treatment with prednisolone and a chemotherapy drug that can be given by mouth once every 14 days.
Cats with small cell GI lymphoma typically respond very well to treatment, with resolution of their clinical signs and significant improvement in their quality of life. The disease can often be controlled by the medications for well over three years.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Oral Cavity
Warning signs of this cancer in cats include swelling of the chin or jawline or facial deformity, difficulty eating and drinking, difficulty grooming, bad breath and drooling. A diagnosis is often suspected based on physical examination findings, with the most common abnormality being an ulcerated (open) mass along the gingiva that is often also distorting the bone of the jaw. A biopsy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Other tests, such as chest X-rays and fine needle aspirates of regional lymph nodes, are recommended to determine whether the tumor has spread.
Treatment options for cats with oral squamous cell carcinoma are limited. Surgical removal of the tumor, along with the affected bone, is considered the best way to relieve pain and prolong survival. Although removal of a portion of the jaw in a cat sounds extreme, cats typically recover well and are able to eat and drink and groom themselves within two weeks of the surgery. Radiation therapy is another treatment option that may relieve pain and even shrink the tumor temporarily. Unfortunately, oral squamous cell carcinoma is not considered a curable tumor. Our oncology team is here to help you to define your treatment goals for your cat if it does have oral squamous cell carcinoma.