Feline Lymphoma Treatment Through Chemotherapy

Feline lymphoma or lymphosarcoma are malignant tumors in the lymphatic system of cats. Although lymphoma affects cats of any age group, it's more common in cats more than 9 years of age. Lymphocytes and lymph tissues are present in many places in the cat's body. Due to this reason, lymphoma can appear in any location. The symptoms of lymphoma in cats are related to the location of malignancy.

Lymphocytes produce antibodies against bacteria. Abnormal division of lymphocytes causes malignant growths in the lymph nodes. Malignant cells can travel and infect different parts of the body. If the malignancy reaches the bone marrow, it can lead to fatal anemia, as bone marrow produces red blood cells.

Symptoms of Lymphoma in Cats:

  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fluid accumulation in the lungs
  • Anemia
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing

There are several forms of lymphoma in cats. Treatment of cats suffering from lymphoma is based on the severity and type of cancer.

Forms of Lymphoma:

  • Multicentric lymphoma, which includes several organs and lymph nodes in the body.
  • Mediastinal form of lymphoma found in the feline chest cavity, which also affects the thymus.
  • Lymphoma that affects the digestive tract and the lymph nodes around it.

Cats suffering from feline immunodeficiency (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV) are more likely to develop lymphoma. X-ray, ultrasound and fine needle biopsies will enable the vet to properly diagnose feline cancer. A blood count test can also detect anemia. In addition, the vet will conduct physical examinations to check for lymph node swelling around the body.

Treatment of Feline Lymphoma

Chemotherapy is the most common treatment for lymphoma. The treatment destroys the cells' ability to grow and multiply. Often a combination of drugs such as doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide and prednisone are administered as a course. These drugs can be administered either intravenously or as injections under the skin. The duration of chemotherapy is determined according to the severity of lymphoma.

The red and white blood cell count has to be closely monitored during treatment. Cats with lymphoma might require lifelong treatments of chemotherapy. Radiation therapy and surgery may be necessary in cases where the lymphoma is present in specific areas of the body.

60 to 70 percent of cats respond favorably to chemotherapy. Since lymphoma progresses very rapidly, prompt treatment is essential. However, chemotherapy also has many side effects.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy in Cats:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Death of healthy cells
  • Susceptibility to infections
  • Loss of cat whiskers

Although there aren't any preventive measures for lymphoma in cats, it's important for pet owners to vaccinate cats and kittens for FeLV and other diseases. Make sure you keep your pet away from cats suffering from FeLV or FIV. After the chemotherapy has been stopped, follow-up exams are important to check for recurrence of cancer.