Cat Lymphoma

"Cat lymphoma is the most common form of cancer in cats. Feline lymphoma effects approximately 200 out of every 100,000 cats. It is a problem that can occur in many parts of your cat's body. Detailed below are the different types of lymphoma characterized by the location of your cat's body where the cancer occurs. Feline lymphoma is cancer that starts from from solid organs such as the lymph nodes, liver and spleen."

Causes of Feline Lymphoma

While we know how to diagnose lymphoma the exact cause is often unknown. Cancer in your cat is caused by a mutation of cells. Since your cat's body is always changing, cell behavior changes as well. If genetics or environmental causes alter the way a cell grows, it could result in lymphoma.

In cat's it is known that the Feline Luekemia virus (FeLV) does cause several types of cancer. As you can see below, treatment of lymphoma is cats that do not have feline luekemia virus respond better to treatment have a lower incidence of cancer cases.

Mediastinal Lymphoma

This type of lymphoma affects the heart, trachea and esophagus. It referes to lymphoma that occurs inside the chest area. This condition usually occurs in younger cats and tends to be seen in cats that are FeLV positive, siamese breeds and oriental breeds.

Feline lymphoma symptoms include:

Inability to exercise
Labored or difficulty breathing (dyspnea)

Alimentary Lymphoma (common)

This type of feline lymphoma occurs in all of the organs that move from from the mouth to the time they move through your cat's anus such as the intestines. It usually is seen in older cats. The lymphoma might be in one or multiple locations.

Feline lymphoma symptoms include:

Weight Loss
Lethargy (weakness)
Abnormal thirst (polydipsia)
Excessive Urination (polyuria)

It is possible that a cat does not have all these symptoms, particularly vomiting or diarrhea. Diagnosis is done with a device callled an endoscope which is inserted into your cat.

The effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment varies based on the severity of the lymphoma.

Multicentric Lymphoma (not common)

This type of lymphoma occurs in multiple points of the body. It is sometimes confused with lymph node disease (called lymphadenopathy)

Extranodal Lymphoma (5% of cases in cats)

Lymphoma of the lymph nodes is called extranodal. These lymph noeds are located throughout the body. The tissue removes bacteria from the blood. This type of lymphoma occurs in the eyes (ocular), spinal cord (neural), kidney (renal), and heart (cardiac).

Diagnosis of Feline Lymphoma

Diagnosis of cat lymphoma requres a blood test, FeLV tests and FIV tests. XRays may be taken to identify any unusual tissue masses in the body. Ultrasound is used for this purpose as well, particularly in the stomach area.

Cat Lymphoma Treatment

Chemotherapy is used to treat most forms of lymphoma in addition to surgery and radiation. Other medications used include the drugs vincristine, cyclophosphamide and prednisolone.

If your cat tests negative for feline leukemia virus then the prognosis could be good with treatment. If negative then the prognosis for recovery may not be as good.

Treatment is usually over a 25 week period.


Decision Making in Feline Cancer Patients
David J. Argyle BVMS, PhD, DECVIM-CA (Oncology), MRCVS
Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies Hospital for Small Animals
Easter Bush, Midlothian, UK

Feline Gastrointestinal Lymphoma
K.P. Richter
Veterinary Specialty Hospital of San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA

Cat Owners Home Veterinary Handbook
Eldredge, Debra; Delbert, CArlson; Carlson, Liisa; Giffin, James


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