The Diagnosis of Feline Lymphoma

Cats suffering from feline leukemia are often predisposed to feline lymphoma, even though this type of cat cancer may also be observed in previously healthy cats. Despite being considered an emergency that may prove fatal, this health condition can be managed so that the life quality of your cat is improved. In order to get started with the treatment - which usually is based on medication and chemotherapy - a diagnosis needs to be performed. A series of observations and tests will eliminate any doubt that the symptoms indicate another disease.

Types of Feline Lymphoma

Tumors can grow virtually anywhere lymph tissue is present. However, in the majority of the cases the intestinal tracts are affected. Depending on the lymph nodes on which unusual proliferations are observed, there are 3 types of feline lymphoma that occur more frequently:

  • Multicentric form
  • Mediastinal form
  • Alimentary form

The latter is the one that affects the digestive tract and is only seldom associated with feline leukemia. The mediastinal form is commonly related to leukemia. It affects the chest cavity, the thymus and the surrounding lymph nodes. The multicentric form features tumors that affect multiple organs and thus, multiple lymph nodes.

Symptoms of Feline Lymphoma

The location of the lymphoma influences the symptoms. For example, cats that suffer from the alimentary form of this disease will display such symptoms as:

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rough hair coat

If the cat lumps are present in the chest cavity, your cat will present symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fluids in the lung cavity

Cat tumors that affect the kidneys will lead to the following signs:

  • Increased water consumption
  • Frequent urination

The following symptoms are present in cats that have tumors in the nose:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Facial swelling

Diagnosis of Feline Lymphoma

Once you report the signs and symptoms to the veterinarian, the diagnosis will be performed. If the tumor affects the gastrointestinal tract or the lymph nodes, a physical exam is sufficient for detecting the swellings. However, if other internal organs are affected, the diagnosis needs to be based on:

  • X-Rays
  • Ultrasounds
  • Physical examination

In order to determine the likelihood that your cat has lymphoma, you may also request to have him tested for feline leukemia virus. In this case, the diagnosis is based on:

  • Chemistry panel
  • Complete blood count

The latter test may reveal anemia or the involvement of a certain organ. Other tests that are commonly used in the diagnosis of this condition are:

  • Fine needle aspirate
  • Biopsy

These tests focus on the detection of immature lymphoid cells, which are common in cats with lymphoma.

  • Treatement Options
  • Medication
  • Chemotherapy
  • Feline surgery

The choice depends very much on the number and severity of the symptoms, facts that also influence the survival rates of cats.