Feline Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma

A feline pancreatic adenocarcinoma is a rare occurrence in the veterinary world. When a cat has this condition, his prognosis is poor as he’ll only have a life expectancy of a couple months. The adenocarcinoma is usually discovered in its later stages.

Feline Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma

The feline pancreas helps create insulin, the product that regulates blood sugar levels and aids in the digestion of food. An adenocarcinoma of the pancreas occurs in the exocrine part of the organ, which helps the small intestine absorb nutrients. A feline pancreatic adenocarcinoma is aggressive and will quickly spread to other organs in a cat’s body.

Feline Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Symptoms

When a cat has an adenocarcinoma, symptoms includ:

  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Distended belly
  • Abdominal pain
  • Liver failure
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced appetite

The tumor pressing on other organs and tissues or an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen can cause the appearance of a distended abdomen and belly pain. This will become apparent to a cat owner when he tries to rub the cat’s belly and the feline withdraws or cries because of abdominal tenderness, particularly in the upper right quadrant.

Diagnosing Feline Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma

A veterinarian will take into account a cat’s history and do a physical exam when symptoms of a pancreatic adenocarcinoma are present. The vet will feel a cat’s belly for any tenderness, swelling or inflation and lumps. When a cat does have a pancreatic adenocarcinoma, blood tests will show higher levels of bile in the cat’s system, which may cause the whites of the cat’s eye to appear yellow. Veterinarians may also take a fluid sample from a cat’s abdomen to see if cancer cells are present when examined under a microscope.

X-rays of the feline will help confirm the presence of a pancreatic adenocarcinoma and can even give the vet a good idea of how big the mass is, and will show if there is any fluid in the abdomen. X-ray images will also show if other organs have been displaced by the tumor. Abdominal ultrasound images of a cat will further confirm the diagnosis of an adenocarcinoma. Surgery may be used to finalize the diagnosis of a pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Treating Feline Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma

Surgery is often elected to remove pancreatic adenocarcinomas. This procedure can be difficult if the cancer has spread to other parts of a cat’s body. If surgery is performed, the cat will need to stay in the hospital for at least a few days for monitoring and post-operative care.

Chemotherapy and other medical options aren’t usually considered as they are not helpful in treating a feline pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Often, cat owners choose to have a cat euthanized if a pancreatic adenocarcinoma is found to be in its advanced stages during a surgical procedure, as the cat is already anesthetized.

A feline with pancreatic adenocarcinoma has a poor prognosis, because this condition is usually discovered too late. Ensuring a cat’s comfort is generally the best option available when he's diagnosed with this condition.