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Feline Lymphoma

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What is Feline Lymphoma?

Feline lymphoma is a malignancy of the lymphatic system, a delicately designed arrangement of internal organs and tissues that affects almost every element of a cat’s physical existence directly or indirectly. It is, unfortunately, the most commonly diagnosed feline cancer, according to Margaret McEntee, DVM, professor of oncology at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

The feline lymphatic system is a complicated network of components that transport life-sustaining substances throughout a cat’s body while also helping to prevent harmful agents from spreading. The thymus gland, spleen, bone marrow, and what vets regard as “gut-associated” lymphoid tissue, which lines the surface of numerous sections of a cat’s body and protects it from infectious pathogens, are among these components.

The lymphatic system’s anatomy is distinguished by its role in conveying a life-sustaining fluid (lymph) throughout a cat’s body. The fluid is circulated through a network of small, interwoven ducts (lymphatic vessels) that connect with lymph nodes—tiny, bean-shaped structures located deep within a cat’s body or at various locations on its surface, such as on the neck, in the groin, and behind the knees. Lymphoma in the chest cavity (mediastinal cancer) and lymphoma that had spread throughout the lymphatic system (multicentric lymphoma) were the most prevalent lymphoma diagnoses decades ago. They are, nevertheless, closely associated with feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and, to a lesser extent, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection (FIV). These viruses are less common today, owing to increased testing and isolation of diseased cats, as well as the use of FeLV vaccinations. The most common site of feline lymphoma is the gastrointestinal system, and the disease there might differ significantly in terms of therapy and prognosis from lymphoma detected elsewhere.

Gastrointestinal lymphoma

Weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and a decreased or increased appetite are all symptoms of lymphoma in the gastrointestinal tract. Physical examination findings could be normal, but you might feel thicker intestines of abdominal lumps. In cats with gastrointestinal lymphoma, bloodwork is likely to be normal, and ultrasound of the intestinal system may show thickening of the intestines or intestinal tumors, however it may also appear normal. These symptoms and diagnoses are often indistinguishable from those seen in cats with IBD. Definitive diagnosis requires biopsies of the intestinal tract.

Which cats develop lymphoma?

Cats of any age can get lymphoma, but the majority of those affected are between the ages of 10 and 12. Due to their higher exposure to FeLV infection, unvaccinated outdoor cats are more at risk than indoor cats. Recent research has also found that cats who are regularly exposed to cigarette smoke have a higher risk of developing gastrointestinal lymphoma.

Treatment options

Chemotherapy is often used to treat a cat who has been diagnosed with most types of lymphoma. A veterinary oncologist will decide which chemotherapeutic medicines to give the cat intravenously, usually once a week for several weeks depending on the cat’s reaction to treatment. Chemotherapy is often better tolerated in animals than in humans, thus monitoring is essential to examine the cat for side effects of treatment.

Sources and references : https://www.vet.cornell.edu

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