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What are Cancerous Lymphoid Cells in the Lungs?

As the disease progresses and cancerous lymphoid cells infiltrate the lung tissue they cause lesions (destroy healthy tissue) and create structural abnormalities that interfere with lung function and cause respiratory distress. In advanced stages, lymphoid cell lung cancer can metastasize to other organs, however, if caught in the early stages this type of cancer is more treatable than other types of lung cancers.

Cancerous lymphoid cells, also known as lymphocytes or plasma cells, can infiltrate the lungs. When this occurs it is known as lymphomatoid granulomatosis. While this is not a common condition it can occur in cats and is a serious, life threatening disease. Lymphomatoid granulomatosis appears in animals of both sexes, all breeds and at all ages, that is, it occurs in young cats as well as in old, but it is somewhat more common in large purebred cats.

Symptoms of Cancerous Lymphoid Cells in the Lungs in Cats

The main symptoms of cancerous lymphoid cells in the lung are respiratory symptoms which grow worse as the disease progresses. Symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy - general malaise
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Occasionally fever

Causes of Cancerous Lymphoid Cells in the Lungs in Cats

The cause of cancerous lymphoid cell in the lungs is not known at this time. It affect all ages and breeds of cats but it is more often seen in large or purebred cats.

Diagnosis of Cancerous Lymphoid Cells in the Lungs in Cats

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam and ask for a complete medical history, discussion of symptom onset, and detailed description of symptoms to rule out other diseases and conditions.

A urinalysis and blood count may be performed to rule out other illnesses and, when cancerous lymphoid cells are present, blood tests will usually reveal an elevated white blood cell count which, in association with respiratory distress, will point your veterinarian to lymphomatoid granulomatosis. X-rays will be ordered and may reveal associated lesions and abnormalities on the lungs. A biopsy of the affected lung tissue may be extracted by your veterinarian and sent to a pathologist who can provide the definitive diagnosis of cancerous lymphoid cells of the lungs.

Treatment of Cancerous Lymphoid Cells in the Lungs in Cats

Although prognosis is guarded and this is a very serious disease, treatment of cancerous lymphoid cells has proved to be more successful than treatment of other lung cancer in pets.

Technically, there is no cure for lymphomatoid granulomatosis, but chemotherapy has been successful in causing this type of cancer to go into remission. In addition to chemotherapy, surgical removal of affected tissue may be required if appropriate to restore lung function and relieve respiratory distress. Steroids have also been used in other animals to treat this type of cancer; your veterinarian will explain treatment options for your cat. Treatment with chemotherapy and steroids causes serious side effects and you should discuss the feasibility of these options with your veterinarian before initiating treatment. Your veterinarian can provide care for management of symptoms and side effects and supportive care as necessary. 

Successful treatment depends on the progression of the disease, the extent of organ damage, and your pet’s response to chemotherapy treatment. For the most successful outcome it is recommended that a veterinary oncologist be consulted if available. Your veterinarian will continue to monitor your cat during treatment for ongoing system functioning, follow-up x-rays to monitor abnormalities in the lungs, worsening of symptoms, progression of the disease, and side effects of treatment.

If the cat does not respond well to treatment or the disease appears to have spread to other organs, euthanasia may be recommended.

Recovery of Cancerous Lymphoid Cells in the Lungs in Cats

Chemotherapy has side effects such as weight loss, vomiting, depression and difficulty breathing that may need to be addressed by your veterinarian and managed by the pet owner. A significant amount of supportive care will be required by the pet owner and ongoing consultation with your veterinarian will be required. It should also be noted that the medications used to treat this disease can be harmful to humans and care will need to be taken when handling them. Prognosis is guarded, especially if the disease is not caught and treated in its early stage and pet owners should be aware when making treatment decisions of their pet’s condition and chances of achieving remission.