Over the years, several studies have been carried out to find the real cause of feline lymphoma, however, little is known about it; It is believed that some cats get this disease because they have a genetic susceptibility to develop various types of cancer.
Feline lymphoma is a malignant tumor that is produced by an abnormal increase in lymphocytes. These are cells that are distributed throughout the tissues and that are found in the lymph nodes, skin, kidneys, liver, nervous system, bone marrow, among others.
In general, this disease occurs from the youth of the feline to his advanced age.
Types of feline lymphoma
Gastrointestinal lymphoma: It damages the stomach, small intestine, large intestine and in some cases other abdominal organs can be affected. This tumor can be focal (appearance of a mass / s) or thick (thickening of the intestine). This type of lymphoma occurs in cats from 6 to 9 years of age.
Multicentric lymphoma: The tumors occur in several areas of the feline’s body. This affects several lymph nodes located in the jaw, groin area, back of the legs, behind the shoulder or even internal organs. Multicentric lymphoma is the least common, but, if it occurs, it hurts cats between 3 to 5 years.
Mediastinal lymphoma: affects the lymph nodes of the mediastinum (located in the center of the thorax) and the thymus gland (lymphoid glandular organ belonging to the immune system). This type of lymphoma can grow a lot in the chest cavity and create difficulty breathing, in addition to affecting the feline esophagus and prevent swallowing water or food. It occurs in cats under 2 years. The most affected breeds are the Siamese and eastern.
Miscellaneous lymphoma: The damaged areas are the central nervous system, skin, nasal cavity and kidneys. The most affected area is usually the nasal cavity, which produces an abnormal secretion of it. Cats aged 5 to 9 years are more likely to have this type of lymphoma.
The symptoms are different because, the tumor can appear anywhere in the body. Some can be:
- Loss of appetite
- Lumps on the skin
- Wounds that do not heal quickly.
- Changes in the eyes
- Difficulty breathing, eating or drinking water.
- Intermittent or continuous salivation.
- Bad smell.
¿How is feline lymphoma diagnosed?
According to specialists, a key element for the successful treatment of feline lymphoma is the early detection of the problem, which must be given by the owner of the pet, who must recognize the cancer when it is located and has not yet invaded the animal’s organism. .
More than the visualization of an increase in volume in any part of the body of the pet, what should be done is to recognize the early signs of potentially malignant changes. With the slightest suspicion of cancer, it is necessary to take it to the veterinarian.
Feline lymphoma is diagnosed by medical processes such as:
- Blood test.
- Axial tomography (CT).
- Magnetic resonance.
With these methods, the tumor is located in the feline’s body; however, it is important to bear in mind that a blood test should first be performed as a routine method before any suspect. Then, proceed to perform any of these methods, as indicated by the veterinarian.
Feline lymphoma treatment
Treatment depends on the location of the tumor and its type. The feline can undergo surgery and the veterinarian must decide whether to remove the entire tumor or remove a part, the rest will be treated with chemotherapies or radiotherapies for animals. Generally, this disease responds well to chemotherapy, but only prolongs feline life because it may not cure it definitively. On the other hand, the nasal or mediastinal tumors of the Siamese can reach the cure with this type of treatments.
In most cases, two chemotherapy drugs and one steroid are combined. Chemotherapies can produce side effects in the feline’s health, such as bone marrow suppression, hair loss, gastrointestinal irritation, damage to the kidneys or the heart, among others. A good indicator to know if a cat is reacting well to chemotherapy in its initial response to the first session, if the cat shows a good response, can be a good sign for chemotherapy to continue until the treatment is completed.
For its part, radiotherapy is more difficult to perform because some veterinarians do not have the necessary instruments to perform it. The process is done by placing an external radiation on the tumor, which has the ability to eliminate malignant cells, but also benign.
Another option may be the provision of oral medications in the form of tablets or injectables to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Likewise, the cat should be given a good nutrition, hydration and tranquility, so that it can recover effectively.
¿How to act before the suspicion of feline lymphoma in the pet?
If your cat has any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is advisable to be taken to the veterinarian as soon as possible, because the more advanced the tumor, it will become really difficult to cure or treat.
If the cat has undergone chemotherapy, he should avoid contact with his feces and urine since, through these, a large amount of chemicals is being expelled from the drugs.
Providing a healthy feeding and hydration to the feline so that it can recover considerably is extremely important; Also, the owner of the pet should have good hygiene and avoid touching the cat’s stool and urine.
At the time of surgery, a pre-anesthetic evaluation should be done to the cat to avoid complications and evaluate its behavior.
Finally, a blood test should be performed before each chemotherapy to verify that the cat’s values are stable. In addition, it is necessary to evaluate the reaction of the cat towards the supplied drugs and in case of presenting complications, the use should be suspended and go to the veterinarian.