Feline Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is rare in cats, but the symptoms of this disease come on so slowly that by the time diagnosis has been made, the cancer has most likely progressed too far to respond to treatment. Cat colon cancer symptoms can be hard to distinguish from the symptoms of other colon diseases.

Symptoms of Feline Colon Cancer

The symptoms of feline colon cancer usually don't become obvious until the disease has progressed to its later stages. The symptoms can be similar to the symptoms of gastric blockage or gastrointestinal infection. These include painful defecation, frequent defecation and straining to defecate. Mucus and brightly colored blood may appear in the feces.

Not all cats with these symptoms are suffering from feline colon cancer. Many cats who develop these symptoms may actually be suffering from viral, bacterial or fungal infections; parasites and nutritional deficiencies can also cause symptoms similar to those of feline colon cancer.

Diagnosing Colon Cancer in Cats

Your vet will diagnose feline colon cancer by ruling out the possibility of other conditions. Colon cancer is rare in cats and its symptoms are similar to the symptoms of many other diseases, so your vet will look first for other possible causes of your cat's GI symptoms, including infection by viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites. If your vet can't find anything else wrong with your cat, he may begin to suspect feline colon cancer.

Your vet will need a stool sample in order to make a diagnosis of feline colon cancer. He'll also take a blood sample and a urine sample for urinalysis. Some vets may prescribe a round of antibiotics to see if symptoms improve. If they do, your vet will diagnose a bacterial infection.

X-rays will reveal any tumors that may be growing in the colon, and further X-rays can tell your vet if the cancer has spread to other organs. A biopsy of tumor tissue can verify that the tumor is malignant, or cancerous.

Treating Feline Colon Cancer

The most effective treatment for colon cancer in cats is surgical. If your cat's cancer hasn't yet progressed very far, your vet may be able to remove the entire tumor or tumors surgically. He'll also need to remove some of the tissue surrounding the tumor.

If your cat's tumor has already spread to other organs, then surgery may not be the best option. Chemotherapy is not as effective as surgery in the treatment of feline colon cancer, but your vet may recommend chemotherapy treatments to slow the progression of cancers that have already spread.

Feline colon cancer spreads quickly, so unless the disease is diagnosed in its early stages, your cat's prognosis remains poor. Even if your cat is diagnosed in the early stages of the disease and all tumors are surgically removed, the cancer could still recur later. Cats who have been diagnosed with feline colon cancer usually don't survive longer than one year following the diagnosis.