Cancer is an unfortunate disease that affects millions of people each year. With several advancements being made daily to try and understand the various forms of this disease humans and animals alike continue to be diagnosed daily. Cancer is the leading cause of natural death in cats and virtually fifty percent of felines will develop cancer if they live to the age of ten years or older.
Cancer is characterized by the division and replication of cells in the body. Eventually, this results in either two types of tumors, malignant or benign. Malignant tumors generally divide and spread throughout the host’s organs (metastasis); benign tumors are non-invasive and can typically be removed through surgery or treatment. However, regardless of the type of tumor, both forms are detrimental to the health of your feline friend. Dr. Jennifer Chaitman of VIMA Specialists informs us “Lymphosarcoma is the most common type of cancer in cats. It is caused by unregulated cell growth of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. It can be in one region of the body or in many regions.”
While the causes of feline cancers are largely unknown and prevention is unavoidable, early detection is key to fighting the disease. According to the Veterinary Cancer Society and the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA) there are several signs to watch for in your cat in regards to feline cancer.
On average, parents will notice abnormal swellings or a dramatic loss in weight. Many cancerous cats also experience sores that won’t heal, decrease in appetite, hesitation to exercise, and difficulty swallowing. Also, diarrhea and vomiting should not be ignored. Upon determining that your cat has cancer there are several treatments to consider, all of which are very similar to that of humans.
Chemotherapy, one of the most well known treatments for cancer, utilizes chemotherapeutic drugs to help slow and reverse the growth of cancerous cells as well as helps in the development of tumor resistance. Animal chemotherapy is a much milder form of human chemotherapy. According Dr. Chaitman, “while chemo is a very common and affective treatment sometimes patients get sick from chemo in which we don’t like to aggressively treat the cancer. If they are going to have to spend a lot of time in the hospital we would rather avoid chemo in order to maintain their quality of life.” Chemotherapeutic drugs are almost always injected intravenously. Affects of chemotherapy include, but aren’t limited to, hair loss, stomach discomfort, allergic reactions, and heart damage.
Dealing with cancer can be very trying, but becoming well educated on your cat’s specific form can help deal with all that follows this disease. While feline chemotherapy can be a costly treatment, most parents would admit that it is a small price to pay for the life of a loved one.
For more information visit: www.csuanimalcenter.org.