Feline Pancreatic Cancer
Feline pancreatic cancer is very rare. However, when it does occur, it is deadly. Cats with pancreatic cancer rarely survive more than a few months after the time of diagnosis.
It is possible that the cancer is caused by something in your cat's environment such as chemicals. The pancreas is responsible for producing insulin which regulates blood sugar levels and it produces enzymes that help with food digestion.
Feline Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer in cats include:
Loss of appetite
A distended belly (this may be due to the tumor itself or due to an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen)
Abdominal pain- your cat may cry out or withdraw if you touch her belly
Jaundice (yellow-colored skin and whites of the eyes), caused by obstruction of the flow of bile
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer are similar to those of liver cancer. Symptoms usually do not appear until the disease is fairly advanced.
Feline Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis
Your vet will perform a thorough physical examination, including feeling your cat’s belly for any mass. Often a mass can be felt in the abdomen. Your vet will then order x-rays and perhaps an ultrasound. The tumor will how up on these tests.
A biopsy could be done to verify that the tumor is cancerous and to determine the exact type of cancer, but this usually is not done.
Feline Pancreatic Cancer Treatment
There is no specific treatment for feline pancreatic cancer. Surgery and chemotherapy are not effective treatments for this condition. Instead, supportive therapy is given. Specific symptoms are addressed as much as possible and the cat is kept as comfortable as possible.
One of the first symptoms of pancreatic cancer is a loss of appetite, and this is a persistent symptom. Cats with a loss of appetite may respond better to moist food than to dry, because it is “smellier.” Cats are motivated to eat by their sense of smell. If cats still will not eat, they may need to be fed with a large syringe.
Medication can be given to control vomiting. Cats who are vomiting may become dehydrated, so they may need to be given subcutaneous (under the skin) fluids.
Cats can be treated with medication for pain. However, if pain is severe, it’s time to talk to your vet about euthanasia.
Natural Medicine and Feline Pancreatic Cancer Treatment
While there are no studies in cats that we are aware of, human trials and trials with dogs show that Omega-3 Fatty Acids may have a positive effect on pancreatic cancer. Benefits include the ability to reverse weight loss, improve energy and stabilize the body's ability to absorb proteins, a common problem in cat with pancreatic problems.
Studies conducted by Hill's Pet Nutrition have shown that when dogs were fed Prescription Diet Canine n/d dog food that was rich in omega-3 fatty acids, these dogs had improved protein levels and had a longer disease free period after treatment.
In addition to dietary change, a dietary supplement that contains anti-oxidants may be worth trying as a supportive therapy. The ingredients in PetAlive C-Caps formula for prevention and treatment of cancer in pets has shown some promise in clinical trials.
Exocrine Pancreatic Neoplasia in the Cat
Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association
Rebecca L. Seaman, DVM
The Use of Nutraceuticals in Cancer Therapy
D.J. Davenport1, P. Roudebush2
Mark Morris Institute, Topeka, KS, USA
Hills Pet Nutrition Center, Topeka, KS, USA