Liver and Spleen Cancer in Cats

Liver and Spleen Cancer in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
Liver and Spleen Cancer in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Liver and Spleen Cancer?

Liver and spleen cancers can affect cats and other companion animals. They are more common in dogs than cats but can occur in roughly one percent of cats. It is most common in older, male cats. These tumors can be life-threatening and will require medical treatment.

Liver and spleen cancers occur in the liver, spleen, bile duct, or related tissues. Liver and spleen tumors may be benign or they can metastasize, or spread. Tumors that spread are considered cancerous and can affect other organs. Liver and spleen cancer can occur as tumors within these organs or in blood vessels, as both organs have a high concentration of these.

Liver and Spleen Cancer Average Cost

From 310 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

Symptoms of Liver and Spleen Cancer in Cats

Cats with cancer of the liver or spleen may not show any symptoms. It is common for symptoms not to occur until the cancer has either spread significantly, ruptured part of the spleen or liver, or entered a late stage. The most common symptoms are similar to those caused by gastrointestinal issues. These cancers can also affect the neurological system as they spread, leading to issues with mental state and behavior. 

Symptoms include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased drinking and urination
  • Discoloration or yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Pain and related vocalizations
  • Lameness 
  • Collapsing or fainting
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Partial paralysis
  • Seizures 
  • Dementia or confusion
  • Depression
  • Pale gums or mucous membranes
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Abdominal mass
  • Internal bleeding
  • Anemia
  • Death 

Types

Various types of benign and metastatic cancers can affect the spleen and liver of cats or other companion animals. The cancer may originate in the spleen or liver, may have occurred in the bloodstream and affected these organs, or might have spread from another part of the body. Types that commonly affect the liver and spleen in cats include:

  • Hemangioma
  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Lymphosarcoma
  • Mastocytoma or mast cell tumors
  • Mesenchymal tumors
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
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Causes of Liver and Spleen Cancer in Cats

The exact cause of cancer in the liver or spleen is unknown. Cancers, in general, are caused by an overgrowth of cells, often in a mutated form. A combination of factors is thought to be the cause of cancer throughout the body, including cases that affect the liver and spleen. Certain risk factors make it more likely that a cat will develop cancer in these organs. Both the feline leukemia virus and the feline immunodeficiency virus increase cancer risks. Cancers are also more common in older cats and tend to affect males more frequently than females. It is also possible for liver or spleen cancer to have spread from cancer elsewhere in the animal’s body. 

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Diagnosis of Liver and Spleen Cancer in Cats

With symptoms that can closely resemble gastrointestinal issues, your veterinarian may use multiple diagnostic methods to identify what is causing your cat’s condition. Be prepared to discuss your pet’s medical history and any symptoms you have observed. Your veterinarian will perform a full physical examination and may draw blood or collect urine samples for analysis. Standard laboratory testing will be conducted on the blood and urine samples to look for potential causes of your pet’s symptoms. Increases in white blood cell counts, the presence of histamines, or a lack of infection related antibodies may point to cancer. Cancer is most commonly confirmed using x-rays or other imaging techniques. These methods allow your veterinarian to clearly see where the cancer is located and to what extent it has spread. A tissue biopsy may be required if a tumor or mass is located. This biopsy may be obtained by needle or surgical methods depending on the location within the spleen or liver. 

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Treatment of Liver and Spleen Cancer in Cats

Various treatment methods may be used if liver or spleen cancer is identified. The method may vary related to the location of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread. A combination of treatments may be needed. In some cases, especially if the cancer has spread significantly, treatment may not be an option. Common treatments for liver or spleen cancer include:

Surgical Removal 

Removing the tumor and any associated cancerous cells is the best and most successful method of treating liver and spleen cancer. The liver can withstand a fairly sizeable portion of it being removed if needed. Surgery carries with it some risk and may not be a viable option in all cases, especially if the cat’s health is very poor. Hospitalization will be required if surgery occurs and your pet may need several weeks to recover. 

Chemotherapy 

This is a common cancer treatment, but its use to treat liver and spleen cancer has not been proven. Chemotherapy may be used in conjunction with surgical removal of the tumor, or it may be prescribed if surgery is not an option. Chemotherapy carries a moderate risk, mostly associated with poor health. Your pet may need several chemotherapy treatments. 

NSAID Pain Relievers 

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are a category of pain reliever that is commonly used to reduce fever, pain, and swelling. They can assist with side effects associated with the cancer and related treatments like surgery. They carry a low risk, but proper dosing is needed to ensure the safety and health of your pet. 

Other Medications 

In many cases, other medications will be used in conjunction with other treatments. Antibiotics are often used, especially in cases which tumors have ruptured or caused an infection. Antihistamines are often prescribed with tumors like mast cell tumors, which produce histamine and can cause severe allergic reactions. As with any medication, proper dosing is needed to reduce the risk of side effects. 

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Worried about the cost of Liver Spleen Cancer treatment?

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Recovery of Liver and Spleen Cancer in Cats

Your pet’s prognosis will depend on several factors. In the case of benign tumors or those that can easily be surgically removed, the prognosis is usually good. Inoperable cancers generally have a poor prognosis. Your cat may require a special diet and additional care while recovering from liver or spleen cancer. Be sure to follow all of your veterinarian’s instructions, including those related to medications, nutrition, and follow-up visits. It will be beneficial to your pet to keep their food, water, and litter nearby so they can limit their mobility, especially while recovering from surgery.

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Liver and Spleen Cancer Average Cost

From 310 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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Liver and Spleen Cancer Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Piggy

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Cat

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12 Years

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5 found helpful

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5 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Lethargy

My cat was diagnosed used with inoperable liver cancer and chemo was not recommended due to the advanced state of the disease. He was given prednisolone. My question is, what is the average time frame between being prescribed meds and the condition deteriorating? He is eating well at this point and seems to be in No pain as of yet.

Aug. 8, 2018

Piggy's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

5 Recommendations

It depends on the type of cancer, the number and size of tumours (as well as location if obstructing bile ducts etc…), amount of functional liver tissue remaining, any metastasis among other symptoms. I cannot give you a specific time frame unfortunately, your Veterinarian may be able to give you an indication but it would be a vague ballpark at best. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 9, 2018

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Baby

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Shorthair

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12 Years

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7 found helpful

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7 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Jaundice
Ascites
Weightloss

Cat is 12 years old, 4 years ago had liver failure - jaundice etc; drip for 1 week and recovered. It has happened again, but this time much worse. It is a month now and she gets subcut fluids every day, with supplements + SAMe. She was syringe fed special diet until last week when we drained the ascites. Since then she has been eating like she hadn't eaten for a month : ) HUGE HUNGER! Has emerged from hiding and is sociable but still not herself, and less jaundiced than before. I was hoping this was signs of improvement... except the ascites is starting again. Ultrasound shows enlarged liver (in the last month), but no discernible tumor. All other organs look OK. Next step is a biopsy; but I'm wondering if there is any chance it could be a solvable problem or if it is obvious it is cancer and I'm in denial.

July 21, 2018

Baby's Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

7 Recommendations

Without examining Baby and reviewing the medical records it is difficult to truly weigh in, however without understanding why the symptoms are occurring we cannot determine a course of treatment or management; a biopsy would be the next logical step if there are no obvious signs of liver pathology (tumours etc…) apart from general enlargement, also an analysis of the abdominal fluid (ascites) may also give an indication to a possible underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 22, 2018

Thank you. I didn't mention that the ultrasound showed a lot of degradation to the liver. Just drained her ascites again and it's not looking at all hopeful. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

July 23, 2018

Baby's Owner


I took Baby to get a second opinion and this new vet posited Liver Flukes straightaway. Her bile ducts are engorged as this has been going on for some time - the symptoms first appeared 4 years ago. She has been admitted to hospital and is now on anti-parasitics and antibiotics and bile thinning medication as the bile was thick and viscous. She will begin steroids soon to combat the massive inflammation of the liver. The lab results will not be back until Monday unfortunately. She is very low batt, but eating very well (ravenously) on her own, and still able to recognise us. Her jaundice is reducing slightly each day. The long term prognosis is not good as the extent of the damage might be too great. I'm hoping her current fatigue is due to the amount of medication she is under and not a sign of further decline. It's a shame I didn't find this specialist sooner. In critical cases, a second opinion might be really valuable.

July 27, 2018

Baby's Owner

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Liver and Spleen Cancer Average Cost

From 310 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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