Feline Lung Cancer Diagnosis

The cause of lung cancer in cats is unknown. Lung cancer can either be developed primarily or secondarily. This means that either the cancer will start in the lungs, or it has spread from another source, such as the liver. There are steps to diagnosing the disease, beginning with you.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Symptoms associated with lung cancer will often appear as symptoms relating to respiratory illnesses. The symptoms that are visible when the cancer first takes effect will appear as:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Coughing

If the cancer remains untreated, the symptoms can develop further. Those additional symptoms include:

  • Loss of weight
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Pleural effusion, the buildup of fluid around the lungs

If these advanced symptoms have become visible, the disease may be so far developed that the cancer will be difficult to treat, and even possibly too late to treat.

A cat has a higher rate of surviving any cancer if it is treated in the beginning stages of the disease. The cancer will be simpler to remove, and the area affected will be significantly less. Although respiratory illnesses are not uncommon among felines, it is advised that you take your cat to the vet anytime he is showing the symptoms, because it's possible that it may be caused by lung cancer.

Diagnosing the Cancer

If a respiratory illness is suspected, your vet will first listen for any abnormalities in breathing or sounds your cat is making. Tests of the blood and urine will be carried out to evaluate the white and red blood cells, platelets, blood sugar and blood proteins. Abnormalities in these cases are directly related to cancer. The health of the liver and kidneys will also be tested. An x-ray of the chest will be called for, and in the case of lung cancer, the tumor will show up on the x-ray.

If there is pleural effusion occurring in your cat, the vet will then draw out the fluids with a needle. This will ease the respiratory symptoms. The fluid can then be tested for signs of cancer. If cancer is prevalent, a biopsy won't be needed. However, if there are no indications of cancer found in the fluids, a biopsy will have to be performed to be certain.

Treating Lung Cancer

Chemotherapy has been proven to be insufficient at treating lung cancer in most cases, and possibly will only be advised as a post-surgical treatment, to ensure the complete removal of the cancer. The tumors, and the lobes which they are attached to, will have to be removed surgically. If the cancer has spread across the entire lung, or both lungs, it will not be possible to remove the cancer. If the cancer has developed too severely, the only thing that can be done for your cat is to ease the symptoms and help him live a comfortable life with the cancer.