Treating Intestinal Lymphoma in Cats with Prednisone

Lymphoma in cats in a common occurrence with feline intestinal lymphoma being the most common gastrointestinal cancer. Prednisone is popularly given to cats with this ailment to help them extend their lives.

Feline Intestinal Lymphoma Explained

Lymphoma makes up about one third of all cat cancers. When a cat has lymphoma, his lymphoid tissues have developed a cancerous mass in a certain part of his body. Intestinal lymphoma affects a cat's small intestines. Cats that are older than 9 years old develop this condition more than their younger counterparts.

The exact cause of intestinal lymphoma is not known, but scientists think that the cancer will spread quicker in cats that already have it when they are exposed to second-hand smoke. Cats may develop lymphoma if they contract the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) or the feline leukemia virus (FeLV).

Feline Intestinal Lymphoma Symptoms and Diagnosis

The most common symptoms of intestinal lymphoma in cats are loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss. One may notice his cat drinking more water and urinating more often. There may be times when the cancerous masses cannot be seen in a cat without surgery, but some cats will have lumps on the sides of their abdomen.

Because intestinal lymphoma has many of the same symptoms as feline inflammatory bowel disease, a diagnosis cannot be made without a biopsy. A biopsy can either be aspirated with a fine needle or may require exploratory surgery or an endoscopy. Once a lymphoma diagnosis is made, a veterinarian will classify the condition to be low, intermediate or high-grade.

Treating Intestinal Lymphoma in Cats with Prednisone

Treatment options for a cat with lymphoma include surgical removal of the cancerous cells, chemotherapy, and treatment with prednisone. Prednisone is a synthetic corticosteroid and can be administered orally, with an injection, or topically. A cat with intestinal lymphoma will be given a high dose of prednisone with his chemotherapy treatment.

A cat that is treated with prednisone alone can live up to 60 days longer if he has intestinal lymphoma. However, if predinisone is combined with other drugs to treat the lymphoma, a cat can achieve complete remission. After a cat is done with his cancer treatments and is in remission, his veterinarian may recommend the cat continue to take prednisone to help keep the lymphoma at bay.

Side Effects of Prednisone

Cats tend to respond well to prednisone and can experience minimal to no side effects when they receive it in low doses. Side effects include high blood pressure, fluid retention, and an increase in thirst. Prednisone can also cause a cat to retain water, develop kidney disorder and urinate more often. A cat using this substance may also develop diarrhea, begin vomiting, develop ulcers and experience weakening of muscles. The quality of a cat's coat while using prednisone may become compromised and his behavior may change.

Cats with intestinal lymphoma can have a better quality of life if the disease is discovered in the low-grade stage and is treated with an aggressive therapy that is recommended by a veterinary oncologist.