Lymphoma in cats is also commonly referred to as feline lymphosarcoma. This type of cancer affects one of the immune system's most important cells, the lymphocytes. These cells are found all over the body, so a range of organs can be affected including the kidneys, skin, gastrointestinal system, and bone marrow to name a few.
Cats infected with the leukemia virus are known to develop feline lymphoma sometimes. This normally occurs with younger felines. Older cats can also develop the condition, but the cancer isn't usually brought on by the leukemia virus with them.
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As you have already learned, lymphosarcoma in cats can affect virtually any body part. The specific areas that are affected will determine what symptoms your cat experiences. Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of weight and appetite are common signs when the digestive system is affected. If the chest and lymph nodes are affected, then felines will typically have a hard time breathing.
The kidneys are commonly affected to, bringing on signs such as appetite loss and increased urination and thirst. Some cats are unfortunate enough to have problems with the spine, which usually results in weakness and paralysis in some cases.
To diagnose feline lymphoma, the vet will need to examine a sample of the affected cells under a microscope or perform a biopsy. Since so many different organs can possibly be affected, a slew of tests will likely need to be performed too. Some of the tests that your cat may need to undergo include an x-ray, ultrasound, urinalysis, and complete blood count. Vets may also test for the leukemia or immunodeficiency virus since they commonly occur with this disease.
Lymphoma in cats tends to be fatal, at least over time. Chemotherapy is the main method of treatment for cat lymphoma. Radiation is also a treatment option, although it's typically reserved for certain types of this cancer.
Cats will almost certainly die if treatment isn't provided. They can have an increased life span with a significant remission time with appropriate treatment, especially if major organs aren't affected. The best prognosis is provided for cats with gastrointestinal, nasal, or chest problems.
Unfortunately though, not all felines respond to chemotherapy treatment. It is very expensive too. That's why owners will usually have a major decision to make. Chemotherapy usually produces noticeable results within two to three weeks. If your cat doesn't respond by that time, then you may want to discuss euthanization with your vet.