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Everything you need to know about liver cancer in cats

White grey and brown fat cat advice © Pixabay

Although it’s a devastating diagnosis, liver cancer in cats isn’t always a terminal illness. Early diagnosis and successful treatment can have a positive outcome.

By Dawn Parrish

What is liver cancer in cats?

The liver in a feline is an essential organ that detoxifies the cat’s blood. Cancer tumours, also known as hepatic neoplasia in cats, develop in the lymphoid tissue or the blood cells. They can also appear as metastasizes if the cat has cancer in a different organ in the body. Liver cancer in cats mostly occurs in senior cats more than 10 years old. Male cats are more pre-disposed to contact the disease than their female counterparts.

Different types of liver cancer in cats

A diagnosis of liver cancer can be one of three natures, all of which present as liver tumours.

Metastatic – cancer cells spread to the liver from other cancerous organs, or cells.

Hemolymphatic  – cancerous tumours arrive in the cat’s liver from other sources – lymph and blood.

Primary – these tumours initiate in the liver itself. Potential causes are thought to be everyday toxins in the home. Cat food containing preservatives, chemical cleaners and other everyday products are considered potential risks. Likewise, chronic inflammation can be a cause of liver cancer in cats.

Symptoms of liver cancer in cats

Because the symptoms of this disease mimic other feline illnesses, it can be difficult to diagnose. Rather, a cat owner will spot their cat behaving strangely, and whisk him off to the medic for further investigation. Increased lethargy is one symptom, but due to most cats sleeping a lot, the disease is challenging to spot. However, if the cancer is quite advanced, more dangerous symptoms will display. A swollen tummy, feline peritonitis, vomiting, dehydration, weight loss and jaundice are all signs of liver cancer in cats.

blood work for cats
Blood tests will help to diagnose liver cancer in cats ©kropekk, unsplash

Diagnosis

An initial examination of your cat at the surgery will alert to the possibilities of any tumours. A swollen abdomen and enlarged lymph nodes are possible signs. Urine tests and a blood count will be taken, followed by a chest X-ray and ultrasound of the cat’s abdomen if needed. Consequently, if liver cancer is suspected, a biopsy will be taken.

Treatment of liver cancer in cats

In more severe cases of this disease, chemotherapy therapy will normally be given. This usually continues over a course of several weeks. In some more isolated cases of liver cancer in cats, radiation therapy or even surgery will be used. Every cat responds individually to each treatment option so bear in mind that responses and success can be different in each case.

Cloud9Vets report on their website “Proper diagnosis requires blood and urine tests and a liver needle biopsy carried out under a general anaesthetic. Because of the liver’s astounding regenerative power, up to three-quarters of the organ can be safely removed to eliminate a tumour. If cancer has not spread to other parts of the body, surgery is normally successful.”

Some cats can experience side effects of chemotherapy treatment but in the main, it is well tolerated. Some drugs are given orally, others as an injection. If any cat with liver cancer is in pain, suitable medication will be prescribed to alleviate the symptoms.

premium cat food and water
Nutritious food and plenty of water for your cat with liver cancer ©Pixabay

Prognosis

Fortunately, with recent medical advances, the progression of liver cancer in cats can be limited. Likewise, with effective management and treatment, many pets will live for several years after being diagnosed. It is vitally important to certainly continue with continuous medical checks and premium grade nutrition.

Even with modern developments in the animal oncology world, the most important factor is the quality of life of the cat. Suggested cancer treatments for felines tend to be less aggressive than when prescribed for humans. It certainly seems like side effects are more uncommon.

Finally, one of the most essential features of the various treatments for liver cancer in cats is that you feel happy with your decision. It seems like there is no definite right or wrong choice. Above all, each situation is different. What you deem to be correct for your cat might be totally undesirable to another family. Rather take the approach, its best to try to slow down the disease instead of searching for a definitive cure