What are Cancer of the Uterus?
For cats suffering from cancer of the uterus, malignant tumors will develop along the uterine muscles and the epithelial tissues, which line the internal organs. From there the tumors will continue to grow and spread if not treated by a veterinarian.
Few things can scare a pet owner more than finding out that their cat has cancer of the uterus, but it is not uncommon for middle-aged to elderly cats that have not been spayed to develop uterine cancer. It can be hard to determine if a cat is suffering from cancer of the uterus, but it is typically accompanied by swelling around the abdomen.
Symptoms of Cancer of the Uterus in Cats
While there are not many physical symptoms of uterine cancer in cats, many symptoms exist that will be able to alert cat owners to this serious issue. The following behavioral symptoms are tell-tale signs of uterine cancer in cats:
- Frequent and uncontrollable urination
- Irregular estrus cycles
- Pus-like vaginal discharge
Causes of Cancer of the Uterus in Cats
It is not known precisely what causes uterine cancer in cats, but several factors have been found to correlate with feline uterine cancer. These factors include:
- Old age
- Not being spayed
- Poor diet
Diagnosis of Cancer of the Uterus in Cats
Due to the seriousness of this illness, the veterinarian will require a full medical history for the cat. This means that it is a good idea for owners to speak to their breeder and keep a log of any symptoms that have been displayed.
From there, the veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of the cat to determine if the issue is uterine cancer, or if some other hereditary issue has been passed down.
After the physical examination, the veterinarian will do several blood tests, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel to be certain that the issue is cancer of the uterus before moving forward.
All of these tests can only show how likely it is that a cat has cancer of the uterus, but they cannot prove it with 100% certainty. To be absolutely certain of the issue, a biopsy must be taken from one of the tumors and sent to the laboratory for examination.
Once it has been determined that the issue is cancer of the uterus, the veterinarian will take several x-rays to determine where the tumors have spread. If the image is unclear, they may perform an ultrasound or MRI to get a better idea of where the cancer is located.
Treatment of Cancer of the Uterus in Cats
Just as for humans, there is no cure for cancer of the uterus in cats. Treatments have been able to save the lives of countless cats, however, depending upon the severity of the cancer.
Benign Tumors: Benign tumors are tumors that are not dangerous yet, but should still be treated by a veterinarian. There are no non-surgical options, but the severity of surgical options varies. Some cases are solved by a simple spaying surgery, which stops the tumors from growing. Other cases may call for a full removal of the uterus to prevent the tumors from worsening or returning.
A spaying surgery is one of the safest possible options with few risks. However, there is no way to be sure that the tumors will not worsen unless the uterus is removed. This surgery is also fairly safe and boasts a low mortality rate. For each of these treatments, the cat should be perfectly healthy after a brief recovery period.
Malignant Tumors: In the case of malignant tumors, the life of the cat is very much in danger. For this reason, veterinarians will routinely remove the uterus and the ovaries from the cat to minimize the risk of any resurgence of cancerous cells. Additionally, many veterinarians recommend chemotherapy after the surgery to ensure that the malignant cells are not transferred to other organs.
Removing the uterus in the case of malignant tumors is just as safe as it is for benign tumors, with an equally brief recovery period afterward. Chemotherapy for cats is not like chemotherapy for humans, as it is only used to improve quality of life. Chemotherapy may continue until either the cancer is completely gone, or until it becomes detrimental to the health of the cat.
Recovery of Cancer of the Uterus in Cats
Follow-up appointments are essential to ensure that the cancer has not returned, even after surgery has removed the uterus. Treating cancer of the uterus can be initially draining on cats, but they should recover their previous energy within 2-3 months after treatment.