Feline Colon Cancer Symptoms

Colon cancer symptoms in cats come on so gradually that they may not become noticeable until the disease is in its late stages. Feline colon cancer is rare, but for cats who develop the disease, the prognosis is generally poor.

Symptoms of Feline Colon Cancer

The symptoms of feline colon cancer are remarkably similar to the symptoms of many other gastrointestinal conditions and disturbances, making this a difficult cancer to diagnose. Other conditions that can mimic the symptoms of feline colon cancer include gastric blockage, viral, bacterial and fungal infection, colitis and parasitic infestation.

The symptoms of colon cancer in cats include difficulty defecating and straining to defecate. However, cats suffering from colon cancer will defecate more often than usually. There may be mucous or brightly colored, red blood in your cat's feces. Your cat may lose weight and seem to be lethargic and depressed. In advanced cases of colon cancer, you may be able to feel tumors in your cat's abdomen.

Tumors growing in the duodenum and small intestines are most likely to cause vomiting and dark, tarry diarrhea. Tumors of the rectum and colon are most likely to cause anal sphincter spasms, leading to the urge to defecate without the production of significant amounts of feces, and bloody feces.

The three most common types of cancer that can affect your cat's colon are lymphoma, mast cell neoplasia and adenocarcinoma. Lymphoma is the most common, followed by adenocarcinoma.

Diagnosing Feline Colon Cancer

Your vet will confirm a diagnosis of feline colon cancer by first ruling out the possibility that your cat's symptoms may in fact be caused by another condition. This means your vet may have to perform a number of tests, and he'll need blood, stool and urine samples. The good news is, most cats who display the symptoms of colon cancer are in fact suffering from a curable condition that produces similar symptoms.

If your vet suspects feline colon cancer, X-rays of the abdomen can reveal the presence of tumors. Your vet will X-ray other parts of your cat's body to see if the cancer has yet spread.

Treating Colon Cancer in Cats

Surgery is the best treatment for feline colon cancer, but the cancer must be diagnosed in its early stages in order for surgery to be effective. If your vet can't remove the entire tumor or tumors, then surgery hasn't been effective.

Chemotherapy hasn't been shown to be of particular benefit in cases of feline colon cancer, but your vet will recommend it anyway to help stop the growth of tumors in cats who can't be operated on. Some vets may recommend a course of chemotherapy for cats who have undergone surgery, to keep the tumors from reappearing later. Colon cancer in cats is difficult to treat, however, and most cats diagnosed with the disease live for no longer than one year.