Feline Bone Cancer

Bone cancer is one of the most common types of cancer affecting cats. Osteosarcoma, a tumor that affects the bones in your cat's legs, is one of the most frequently occurring cat cancers. This cancer can lead to bone disintegration and may spread into the soft tissues surrounding the affected bone.

Bone Cancer in Cats

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of cat bone cancer, but even this type of cancer appears rarely in cats. Osteosarcoma is an aggressive cancer than can lead to disintegration of the bone and abnormally increased production of bone tissue; it spreads easily to nearby tissues. These tumors usually occur in the long bones of the legs, and can cause severe pain and lameness as they grow larger.

Cat bone cancer can occur in cats of any age, but it's most common in cats older than ten.

Symptoms of Feline Bone Cancer

The symptoms of feline bone cancer can be quite similar to the symptoms of osteoarthritis. These include stiffness and limited joint movement, pain and lameness. Osteosarcoma progresses rapidly, so early recognition of symptoms is essential to successful treatment. If your cat develops arthritis-like symptoms, consult your vet to verify a diagnosis.

Diagnosing Feline Bone Cancer

Your vet can diagnose feline bone cancer with the help of an X-ray. Any tumors in your cat's bones will appear on the X-ray. Your vet will perform a biopsy to verify that tumors are cancerous. If your vet finds tumors in your cat's bones, he'll take chest and abdominal X-rays to see if the cancer has already spread.

Treating Feline Bone Cancer

Most vets recommend a combination of surgery and chemotherapy to treat bone cancer in cats. If the cancer has not yet spread, then amputation is the most effective treatment. A surgery known as limb sparing might help save your cat's leg. Limb sparing means that your vet will surgically excise the diseased part of the bone and replace it with a graft of bone tissue from another cat's leg.

Chemotherapy will be used in conjunction with surgical therapy, whether or not your cat's cancer has already spread. Chemotherapy can prevent the spread of cancer and limit the growth of tumors that have already appeared in other organs. Radiation therapy can be used to control the growth of individual tumors, and may be used to treat tumors that cannot be surgically removed. Your vet will also prescribe pain medication to make your cat more comfortable during his cancer treatment.

Cat Bone Cancer Prognosis

If your vet manages to surgically remove the entire tumor, and if the cancer hasn't yet spread to other parts of the body, then your cat's chances of recovery are good. Even if the tumor can't be removed, medications can prolong your cat's life and reduce his suffering. On average, cats are able to live for up to two years with feline bone cancer. Some cats are even able to live much longer than that with the disease.