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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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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

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Piggy

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Cat

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

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

3320 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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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

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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3320 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

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


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

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Bubba

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tabby

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18 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss

One week ago took my 18.5 year old cat to Vet...concluded to put him to sleep. He had been diagnosed 4 years ago with renal kidney disease. Over an 1 week period he lost a significant amount of weight, 2 days before making appointment he started having trouble walking on hind legs and day before had 3 seizures. Considering his medical history and without putting him through extensive test, the Vet just physically examined him. Due to breathe odor and feeling his spleen (felt grainy)...he seemed to think it was possible he might have spleen cancer. I guess I am feeling GUILTY and would like someone to reassure me that I made the right decision.

April 27, 2018

Bubba's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Based on the information in your questions, you made the right decision; but without examining Bubba or performing a necropsy I cannot assure your for 100%. From what you had described, it seems that Bubba has done well over the last four years and had lived to a good age for a cat. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 28, 2018

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Kelso

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short-hair

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12 Years

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Critical severity

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1 found helpful

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

My 12 year old male cat has been diagnosed with lymphoma. First, the growth was in the appendix and it has been removed. Unfortunately, the tumour has spread to his liver and spleen. His vet said surgery cannot be done hence he's been given traditional Chinese meds. The concern is he is not eating much and is difficult to administer medication. He gets highly stressed out with force-feeding as well. Also, because he is puking out his food, how can he recover?

Feb. 12, 2018

Kelso's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. I'm sorry that this is happening to Kelso. If he is not eating, is vomiting, and is difficult to administer medications to, there may not be many options for him, sadly. There are anti-nausea medications that your veterinarian can give as an injection that might help, but if you aren't able to medicate him, it makes it difficult to treat his signs. I hope that he remains comfortable for a while longer.

Feb. 13, 2018

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Sooty

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Half siamese

dog-age-icon

15 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Tumor
Fliud

What is the chance of survival if this is to be operated on and removed. He has a tumor on his spleen and it is floating in fluid. He is about 15 years old and a black half Siamese. He is not taking any medication just yet and his blood tests come back in 48 hours.

Jan. 9, 2018

Sooty's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. WIthout knowing what kind of tumor, what kind of fluid,and more about Sooty's health status, I have no way of knowing what his chances of survival are for they surgery. Your veterinarian will be able to give you an idea as to prognosis for recovery, risks, and benefits to the surgery once they get the bloodwork back and see how healthy his organ function is. I hope that he does okay.

Jan. 9, 2018

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Pedro

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european

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Big Gelly Belly, Lethargic,Loss W

Hi, my 9 year old cat has been diagnosed today with a spleen cancer. 1 year ago the vet detected a mass around his spleen, but after tests, could not detect if it was tumor or not. At that time he was laughing and not eating. So we let it be. One month back, he stopped eating, was very lethargic, so I took him again, and the white cells in his blood were very high, deducting either he was having an infection, or a tumor, but the mass was still there, and not bigger, all the others organs were fine and not affected. They found a small cut on his tongue, so we presumed that was giving him an infection, so the vet treated him with antibiotics. 2 weeks ago he started loosing weight and muscle tone, and his belly start to enlarge massively, especially on the right side, feeling very belly, but other than that, he seemed happy and fine, good appetite. Today they run an ultrasound test and the liquid was full of proteins indicating a cancer. The vet told me that there is no cure and that his life prospective is short, weeks. I was devastated so I forgot to ask about the surgery, but isn't there any other solution that I can try to save him? Surgery maybe? I know cats can live without spleen. And all his others organs are in good condition and not affected. Can someone give me some advice, please?

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Herbie

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Tabby Cat

dog-age-icon

16 Years

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Serious severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Shallow Breathing
Shallow Breathing, Paralysis

My cat was diagnosed with several tumors on her spleen on Auguct the 2nd 2019. We had no indication she was ill until an episode at 1:00 AM in the morning where she lost the use of her rear legs and her breathing became shallow. We rushed her to emergency. She was diagnosed and the vet informed us that she would require surgery to have any chance at all, and gave us the sad news that she only had a 30$ - 40% chance of surviving surgery and anesthesia. She was given blood transfusions to regain her strength and surgery took place at 9:00 AM. She survived the surgery, and after a two wek period of recovery was up and around like normal. The vet felt that all of the cancer was removed with the spleen, but recommended a chemo regimen. This involved five treatments with each treatment taking place after three weeks. Other than a loss of appetite after the treatments for 2-3 days, there were no other side effects. We are now closing in on six months since the start of this, and my cat is healthier than she has been in years. She remains cancer free and is tested now monthly. This was a very grim diagnosis, but I encourage anyone who faces a similar situation not to give up. As long as your cat has quality of life this is something you can beat. At the very least you can have some quality time with your pet for a good period of time.

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Peg

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Norwegian Forrest Cat

dog-age-icon

13 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating Anything At All

Peg is a 13 pound Norwegian Forest cat. She has diabetes for the last seven years but it has been controlled with insulin. She will soon be 14 years old but it still active bright and alert.Tuesday night, she ate her dinner and had her insulin shot. The very next morning, she would not eat. I took her to the vet and they get in expensive examination and a full blood panel. All her numbers looked excellent. I took her home with some appetite stimulant, but she still would not eat . I took her back to the vet and get an ultra sound and found a large white spot on her spleen. She still will not eat and it has been almost 5 days. Surgery to remove the spleen is an option but I do not know if she will be too weak to go through a surgery she has not been eating at all.and is very weak She still drinks water and urinates.

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Princess

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long haired domestic persian cross

dog-age-icon

15 Years

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Critical severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulties
Breathing Difficulties, Anemia

My 15 year old precious girl Princess died on the way to the vet yesterday. It was a horrible experience as she died in the basket on my lap in the car that a friend of mine was driving in a state of extreme distress. I wished it could have been different but it all happened so quick. Two days ago her breathing had become more laboured and she had problems lying down for long and just kept standing up. I did not realise that she probably had a build up of fluid in her lungs which would have made lying down in the carrier fatal. I made the appointment to which i have referred to at the beginning of this description. She had been diagnosed with lymphoma of the spleen about 3 weeks ago and my vet had only given her weeks to months to live so the prognosis was poor. This was a devastating blow as she meant the world to me. She had been on metacam since November 2018 and lactulose to try and sort out an ongoing constipation issue but ended up needing an enema back on 10 February 2019. Since that procedure she was never quite the same. An ultrasound then revealed a lump which was a huge size and had not been discovered during previous examinations. However, my second opinion vet was concerned initially when finding out she had low blood red cell count and elevated high white cell count in blood and urine tests during January and February 2019. After the ultrasound on 28 March 2019 she was prescribed prednicare and although eating and drinking was not urinating much and appeared to be distressed when attempting to use the litter tray. During the last remaining days and weeks, I nursed her and she was able to go out into the garden of where i am currently residing (it had been a stressful 16 months as I was forced to move out of my flat in January 2018; where we first started our special relationship into two further addresses; the second address is where i have been with princess since April 2018). At the moment the grief is unbearable and I blame myself for putting her in the basket. I believe that I should have recognised signs and been prepared to act more swiftly than i did because in August 2018 she developed lameness in her right leg, I took her to my previous vet who did not know what the problem was at first but then diagnosed osteoarthritis, we discussed putting her on U move advanced 360 and metacam. I decided to approach another vet for second opinions during November and December 2018. A blood test was scheduled for January 2019 as at that time my finance was extremely poor but the second opinion vet said i could comfortably leave it till the January. Since I adopted her in 2010 at the age of 7, I have always taken her for regular check ups but about June 2016 during a routine health screen the vet discovered she had a heart murmur, I was very upset even though the vet said it was low grade. I think this was probably the start of her deteriorating health conditions when I look back. As the vet did not suggest any treatment I just took her home and we just carried on as normal. She was an indoor cat and was always slightly overweight, I tried to manage that but it was difficult; also she had bouts of constipation since i adopted her which I treated with kat o lax which worked okay at the time. Although there were ups and downs and i stressed out over her, we had 9 special years together for which i am truly grateful; i was very fortunate to have had Princess in my life and i will miss her immensely.

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Barney

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Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

17 Years

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Serious severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Abdominal Distension
Drinking More
Urine Smells Sweet

6 weeks ago I took my 17 yr old cat Barney to the vet because of a significantly swollen abdomen. Xrays revealed a large mass. Specialty vet hosp did an ultrasound and said the tumor is on his spleen and in their opinion looked very abnormal/most likely cancerous. They also noted nodules on his liver. Drainage of the fluid in his abdomen and review under microscope did not provide any indication of type of tumor. We opted to just keep him comfortable due to his advanced age. 3 weeks after the visit and the abdominal swelling is back. Yesterday had my vet do the tap and they removed over 1100 ml of fluid. Barney seems to move better but I also noticed that his urine now smells quite sweet. I suspect diabetes because he is hungry and eats/drinks but has lost 2 lbs in the 6 weeks since diagnosis. I know there is not much time but cannot imagine euthanasia right now since he seems to be normal other than the fluid build up.

Liver and Spleen Cancer Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$6,000

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