Cancer Feline Liver
"Cancer feline liver (called Hepatic neoplasia) is usually due to cancer that spreads from other parts of the body. Diagnosis is via blood test or analysis of a tissue sample. Treatment involves either removing the diseased section of the liver or treatment of the symptoms."
Cancer in the liver may be a primary tumor (one that originates in the liver), hemolymphatic cancer (arising from blood cells or lymphoid tissue) that involves the liver, or metastatic cancer (cancer that has spread to the liver from other organs). The most common form of liver cancer tumors is metastatic disease. Primary liver cancer, when it occurs, is more common in cats greater than ten years of age.
Lymphoma is the most common tumor type found in the liver. It is often seen at the same time in the intestines and stomach (called Lymphosarcoma) Other diseases are also seen at the same time as feline liver cancer such as leukemia, multiple myleoma, and mast cell tumor are reported.
Cancer Feline Liver Symptoms
Symptoms of liver cancer feline tumors include:
- Loss of appetite
- Intermittent vomiting and diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Depression and lethargy: for instance, doesn’t want to play or go for walks anymore
- Pale gray feces: this is because bile pigments are what gives feces their characteristic brown color, and if the liver is not processing bile properly, the feces will not get their color
- Orange urine: the improper processing of bile results in the excretion of bilirubin in the urine in high amounts, causing orange urine
- Jaundice: white skin and the whites of the eyes will look yellowish, again due to the liver not processing bile properly
- Painful abdomen
- Increased drinking and urination
Cancer Feline Liver Diagnosis
To diagnose liver cancer canine tumors, your vet will take a thorough history and perform a physical examination. He or she will do a blood test to check your cat’s blood count and liver enzymes. The vet will also do chest and abdominal x-rays, and probably an abdominal ultrasound. A liver biopsy will also need to be done in order to determine that the tumor is indeed cancerous. This can be done during surgery to remove the tumor, or with a fine needle biopsy (insertion of a needle to take a tissue sample for research in the lab).
Cancer Feline Liver Treatment
Because the liver can continue to function while up to 70 – 80% of it is affected by a tumor or other disease, cancer is often not detected until it is very advanced. That makes treatment difficult or impossible.
Surgical removal of the tumor is the preferred method of treatment if one liver lobe is diseased. Chemotherapy is another option, depending on the type of tumor. Otherwise, supportive therapy is given, which may include medication for vomiting or diarrhea, a special diet for liver disorders, IV fluids when necessary, and other treatments of symptoms as they arise.
Chemotherapy is effective if used to treat hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, or mastocytosis. Primary liver tumors that have effected multiple lobes of the liver do not have an effective treatment resulting in a poor prognosis.
Recent scientific studies show that a dietary supplement that contains Milk Thistle (Carduus marianus) can be very helpful in improving liver function. It contains an antioxidant flavonoid called silymarin which helps with liver function. PetAlive Liver-Aid combines Milk Thistle with other helpful herbs and is worth discussing with your veterinarian.
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The Merck Veterinary Manual
Liver Disease: Signs, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
Sherwood Animal Clinic
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada