Although feline lymphoma takes one of several different forms, each form consists of tumors in the lymphoid tissue. Since lymph tissue is found everywhere in the body, the tumors can affect most of the organs.
Types of Feline Lymphoma
All forms of feline lymphoma are associated to some degree with feline leukemia. If the cat is indeed positive for feline leukemia, the outlook is bleaker than if there is no leukemia present.
Alimentary Form of Lymphoma
The alimentary form of feline lymphoma will develop in the digestive system and the lymph nodes around it. About half of all alimentary lymphomas are found in the small intestine, although they can develop in any area in the digestive system. Generally a mass can be felt in the abdomen. The symptoms associated with this type of lymphoma are mainly vomiting and weight loss.
Alimentary lymphoma is the least likely of the three to be associated with feline leukemia and usually has the best prognosis.
Mediastinal Form of Lymphoma
This form of lyphoma affects the chest, thymus gland and the lymph nodes associated with them. There are usually associated respiratory problems such as wheezing, difficulty breathing and lethargy.
This form usually involves more than one organ. Affected multiple lymph nodes and tumors can be found in several areas of the body. The prognosis for this type of lymphoma is not good. This is the type most often associated with feline leukemia.
Cutaneous lymphoma affects the skin of your cat. It can look like any of the following:
- Open sores
- Dry patches
- Bald patches
These lymphomas develop outside the lymph nodes and infect many different types of tissue. The kidneys are a likely place for this type of feline lymphoma to develop aand so are the retinas of the eyes.
Symptoms of Lymphoma
The actual symptoms of the lymphoma will depend on which type it is and which organs it affects. Some cats will show symptoms earlier than others, and the symptoms may be slightly from one cat to another. Some of the usual symptoms are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Dull, coarse coat
- Fluid in the lungs
- Increased drinking
- Increased urination
- Loss of fur
- Lumps and tumors
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Weight loss
Tests Your Cat May Receive
Your vet will want to do some tests to confirm feline lymphoma if he suspects this disease. One of the first things he will want to do is a biopsy so that he can send the tissue off to a lab for a complete work up. If there is a visible tumor, the vet will probably remove it at that time as well. The cat will not be cured because the tumor is removed. Lymphoma spreads very quickly and by the time there is a tumor, it has infected other tissue.Your vet will also look for any additional disease that might be associated with the lymphoma or complicate the treatment plan.
Treatment of Lymphoma in Cats
Since lymphoma is a cancer, feline lymphoma is treated much like cancer in humans. Your cat will need to receive chemotherapy to kill the cancerous cells and tumors in her body. The disease is not curable, but the chemotherapy will extend your pet's life and give her a higher quality for her remaining life if it is successful. The success rate for chemotherapy is about 60 percent, and most cats will live another six months to a year on average.
Feline lymphoma is a serious disease that does not offer a full cure. You will have to decide how much money you want to spend on prolonging your pet's life and how much quality of life she will retain in the process. Talk to your vet about your concerns, and be sure that you understand the treatment plan and prognosis for your cat.