An Introduction to Feline Lymphoma

Feline lymphoma or feline lymphosarcoma is a tumor that's generally seen in varying forms in older cats. Although feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is the main cause of lymphoma in younger cats, the feline aids virus (FIV) increases the risk of developing feline lymphoma.

Feline lymphoma commonly originates in three parts of the body. Since lymphocytes or lymph tissues are present everywhere in a cat's body, lymphoma can occur anywhere and include various organs.

3 Forms of Feline Lymphoma

  • The multicentric form
  • The mediastinal form
  • The alimentary form

Multicentric Feline Lymphoma

The multicentric form occurs in cats infected with feline leukemia virus. It involves the peripheral lymph nodes with occasional involvement of the spleen or liver. As the lymphoma advances, malignant cells and hepatosplenomegaly may develop.

Mediastinal Feline Lymphoma

This lymphoma includes the infection of the thymus, anterior and posterior lymph nodes and the chest cavity. The mediastinal form of feline lymphoma is also associated with feline leukemia.

Alimentary Lymphoma

This form is seen in the gastrointestinal tract of the pet. The tumors present are from B-lymphocytes in the lymphoid tissue. The small intestines and stomach are commonly infected with tumors. Tumors can also cause intestinal obstruction as they progress.

Diagnosis of Lymphoma

Cats exhibit symptoms of lymphoma based on the organs involved or the form of lymphoma. The diagnosis includes tests such as thoracic radiographs, abdominal radiographs, ultrasounds and bone marrow analysis. Cats will also be tested for FeLV and FIV to obtain a correct diagnosis for appropriate treatment options. Urine analysis and complete blood count tests are conducted in most cats suffering from lymphoma. It's very important to detect the severity of lymphoma and the accompanying organs that are infected. B cells or T cells are lymphocytes present in a cat's body. During the diagnosis, tests are conducted to determine the type of cells involved in lymphoma.

Treatment of Cat Lymphoma

Lymphoma in cats is treated with chemotherapy. The duration of chemotherapy and the chance of successful treatment depend largely on the results of the tumor biopsy and the diagnostic tests. Cats generally respond well to chemotherapy and it could bring them relief within 48 hours. The result of chemotherapy varies in each individual cat. Most cats are able to survive for nearly 9 months on chemotherapy. Cats suffering from FeLV aren't likely to have a good prognosis.

Drugs Used in Chemotherapy

  • Vincristine
  • Prednisone
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • L-Asparigniase

Cats may feel uncomfortable during chemotherapy. The duration of chemotherapy may be adjusted or changed based on the cat's response to the drugs. Surgery may be necessary in some cats. Surgery is then followed by chemotherapy for a positive outcome. Lymphoma that exists in localized areas of the body may also be treated with radiation therapy.

Although the treatment options can increase chances of survival, there isn't a vaccination or antibody available that can prevent feline lymphoma from occurring.