Feline Pancreatic Cancer

Feline pancreatic cancer is almost always fatal for any cat affected by it. While this is not extraordinary good news, the good news is that this type of cancer is fairly rare in cats.

The main function of the pancreas is to produce sufficient levels of insulin throughout a cat's body; which help to regulate and maintain the appropriate sugar levels. While the pancreas also aids in food digestion, the most predominate function of the pancreas is the release of insulin. When a cat is affected by a cancer in the pancreas, the implications of a severely alter blood sugar level and malnourishment become very real.

Symptoms of Feline Pancreatic Cancer

If a cat owner is lucky enough to catch the onset of this cancer before it becomes progressive, the prognosis may be slightly higher. However, detection of pancreatic cancer can only be made if a cat owner is informed about what to look for in the way of pancreatic cancer. Here are some of the symptoms to be cognizant of:

  • Unexplained, sudden loss of weight
  • Decreased appetite
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Pain in the abdomen, indicating the cancerous tumor in the pancreas
  • General fatigue
  • Loss of interest in normal activates

While some of these symptoms can certainly suggest other health conditions, many cats that are affected by pancreatic cancer will have an excessive amount of swelling in the abdominal area. This happens as a result of fluid build up due to the tumor, causing the stomach to appear very large. This is also a sign that the cancer is extremely progressive and very far gone.

Diagnosing the Cancer

A general physical examination and gentle palpitation of the abdomen may produce the feeling of a tumor; yet this method cannot always be used to determine exactly where the tumor is in a cat's body. So, the only way to make doubly sure that the tumor lies within the pancreas is to do either x-rays or sonograms of the suspicious area.

Using these methods of testing, it will be very clear that the tumor exists in the pancreas; yet, it will not be exactly clear if the tumor is in fact malignant or benign. In order to make this clarification, a veterinarian will have to perform a biopsy under general anesthesia of the affected area.

Treating Pancreatic Cancer

The only two options that exist for treating feline pancreatic cancer are surgery and chemotherapy. The problem is that neither surgery nor chemotherapy has proved to be effective at treating this type of cancer. In some cases, when the cancer is caught very early on, there may be a slightly higher chance of these treatment methods being effective.

The only true treatment option for pancreatic cancer is trying to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with it. If a cat is vomiting excessively, he may be prescribed a medication to help control that. Likewise, a cat may require a switch in food to something that will better entice him to eat. Because treatment methods for pancreatic cancer are highly ineffective, many cat owners do choose to have their cat put down as a result.