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What is Lung Cancer?

There are two types of lung cancer that affect cats: primary lung tumors and metastatic lung tumors. Primary lung tumors, which originate in the lung, are incredibly rare in cats. The number of cases of primary lung tumors in cats has increased in recent years, though the exact reason for the increase is unknown. Metastatic lung tumors are a secondary type of lung cancer that originally forms in another part of the body and spread to the lungs. Both types of lung cancer primarily affect cats that are over ten years of age.

Lung Cancer Average Cost

From 591 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$7,000

Symptoms of Lung Cancer in Cats

The symptoms of lung cancer may differ depending on where the cancer originated, how aggressive it is, and whether or not the affected cat has suffered from prior lung disease. Symptoms may manifest in different ways, and some may not appear at all. For example, certain breathing problems and coughing are surprisingly uncommon; less than a third of cats diagnosed with lung cancer have breathing problems.

Look out for any of the following symptoms if you suspect your cat may have lung cancer:

  • Anorexia, or loss of appetite
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Labored or rapid breathing
  • Excessive coughing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Excessive hiding
  • Fever
  • Excessive meowing
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden lameness

Metastatic cancer that has spread to the lungs may be accompanied by other symptoms depending on where the cancer originated, including:

  • Change in urination and defecation
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Skin sores
  • Unexplained bleeding
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Causes of Lung Cancer in Cats

The causes of lung cancer may vary depending on whether or not the cancer is primary or metastatic. However, the primary cause of lung, and many other types of cancer, is exposure to carcinogenic substances in the environment. Cats that live in households with an active smoker are twice as likely to develop cancer as those that live in smoke-free households.

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Diagnosis of Lung Cancer in Cats

The vet will initially perform a chest x-ray, but sometimes these can come back normal even if the cat does have cancer because tumors have to grow to a certain size before they will show up clearly. A biopsy will be taken to confirm the presence of cancer. Ultrasounds and CT scans, used in conjunction with fine needle aspiration (FNA), are also diagnostic methods to diagnose several types of cancer. The vet may also take urine and blood samples in order to test for other diseases.

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Treatment of Lung Cancer in Cats

Before recommending a course of treatment, the vet will have to determine the stage of the cancer. However, due to the nature of the cancer, treatment is purely palliative in many cases, or done to ease the cat’s pain as opposed to treating the underlying cause. 

For primary lung tumors, surgery is generally required to remove the part of the lung where the tumor is located. During this process, the veterinary surgeon will administer a variety of pain management medications to the cat in addition to epidural anesthesia. There will also be a chest tube in place that will eliminate any air or fluid in the lungs. Since anesthesia is dangerous for older animals, and even more so for animals who suffer from pulmonary diseases, the cat may be placed on a ventilator during surgery. The surgery will normally be followed by chemotherapy or radiation treatment to slow the spread of any remaining cancer cells. This course of treatment has the best prognosis.

For metastatic lung tumors, the vet will recommend treatment based on where the other tumors are located in the body. Certain types of tumors are difficult to remove surgically and may be treated with chemotherapy or radiation. Unfortunately, by the time the cancer spreads to the lungs, it is usually in its aggressive final stages, resulting in a poor prognosis with a high likelihood of tumor recurrence.

In most cases of feline lung cancer, anticancer drugs may be ineffective as pulmonary cancer tends to have a strong resistance to drugs.

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Recovery of Lung Cancer in Cats

The cat will be kept in the hospital until its breathing has improved and pain subsides enough to be managed by tablets. The chest tube must be left in place for 12-24 hours following surgery. During the recovery period, the cat will be given pain medication through IV, patches, or tablets (if the cat is awake).

The cat will not be allowed to exercise for up to 2 weeks following the surgery in order for the surgery site to heal completely. An Elizabethan cat collar or bandage may be used in order to prevent the cat from irritating the site. Swelling may occur near or on the surgery site for up to a week after surgery; this is normal.

The vet will prescribe pain medication which must be taken for several days after the surgery. The vet will schedule follow-up appointments as needed for chemotherapy or radiation treatment, as well as to check for tumor recurrence.

If the owner is an active smoker, the best thing they can do for their cat (and themselves) is to stop smoking. Smoking outside will not prevent the cat’s cancer from recurring, since the owner carries the carcinogen in their hair, clothes, and skin.

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Lung Cancer Average Cost

From 591 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$7,000

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Lung 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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Tabby

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Heavy And Rapid Breathing, Lethargic

My cat has been breathing heavy&rapidly since last week @ last Thursday.She just got x-rays on her lungs.The vet said from the x-rays it could be bronchitis or lung cancer because nodules appeared on her x-rays.I am giving her an antibiotic in case it is bronchitis & steroids to help with inflammation.The vet said if it is lung cancer she would have to do chemo.She has epilepesy so I'm concerned how she would handle chemo.How painful would chemo be for her with epilepsy? She has epilepsy so I am concerned on how she would handle chemo. The vet stresses her out so she has aseizure

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Animals tend to handle chemotherapy much better then people do, and seem to suffer less. There are different protocols for chemotherapy, and your veterinarian can likely develop one that takes into consideration her epilepsy. I hope that she feels better soon.

Aug. 3, 2020

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Blue

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British Shorthair

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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5 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing
Short Of Breath

My cat coughed for over a weekend in May and was taken to the vet. After the X-ra​y he was suspected to have lung cancer. However​, he as well suffered from HCM so CT or surgery would be very risky. We took a palliative treatment option and he was subscribed with steroid and medication to help with HCM. When first detected, his weighed only 4.8kg (normally 6kg), and he breath ​was aprox.​ 28 respirations per minute. Over the course of three months, now he's gaining the weight back a bit (5.5kg) however the breath​ accelerated to 40+ per minute. Monthly X-Ray also showed indication of spreading. Apart from the short of breath, he is sweet and happy as always, as if he's not sick at all. We now work hard to keep his appetite and weight, however, I'm wondering if there's anything else I can do to help him feel better and live longer with a life​ of quality. Thanks.

Aug. 30, 2018

Blue's Owner

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Eddie

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tabby

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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Serious severity

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6 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing

I noticed my cat had a bit of a cough starting a few months ago. We brought him to the vet for an x-ray and they saw a mass in his right lung. We were referred to a cancer centre where they performed an ultrasound, bloodwork, a CT scan and a biopsy. They found that the mass had spread to several spots in his right lung. I was surprised because his bloodwork came back normal and he seems to be his normal self besides the coughing. The vet has told us it is aggressive and the only treatment would be chemo which would be hard on him and would only extend his life a short time. We have decided to do an at-home vet service to euthanize him when the time comes. I do not want to end his life prematurely, but I also could not stand to see him suffer. Will it be obvious when his time has come and he is suffering? What should I look out for? Do you have any idea of how long he will have left? I am absolutely devastated at the thought of losing my best friend.

Aug. 19, 2018

Eddie's Owner

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6 Recommendations

When the ‘time comes’ can be a subjective process since we have different thoughts and attachments to our pets, some owners admit that they keep their pets alive out of selfishness of not wanting to let go; when the time comes, most people will recognise that their loved one is struggling, has a low quality of life, in pain etc… but then the owner needs to be emotionally ready to make the decision. Normally I suggest people look at their loved one and determine whether they are having a good quality of life, has their personality changed, are they distant, hiding, in pain among other signs; however, if Eddie is struggling to breathe, not eating or drinking, not affectionate as usual or any other indicators would be sign the time has come. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 19, 2018

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Tangy

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tabby

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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

Vomiting, Anorexic, Lethargic

Good evening, I don’t know for sure if my cat has cancer but he hasn’t eaten anything in 3 weeks, he’s loosing weight, all he does is lay around, I took him to the vet 2x n they prescribe a medicine for his appetite n steroids but there pills n if he’s not eating how is he gonna get the meds. The vet suggested euthanizing him but just wanna know something definite 1st

Aug. 16, 2018

Tangy's Owner

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1 Recommendations

Without examining Tangy first I cannot give you any specific cause for the symptoms presenting; however a thorough examination, blood test and possibly an x-ray should be done to help narrow in on a possible cause especially if you’re looking for answers to make an informed decision. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 16, 2018

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Freddie

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Yellow cat

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10 Years

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Fair severity

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2 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

What are the treatments for lung cancer in cat? He's 10 years old, otherwise healthy. Prognosis? What are the parameters for making appropriate decisions regarding his health?

Aug. 10, 2018

Freddie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Treatments for lung cancer depend completely on the type and stage of lung cancer, and the health status of Freddie. Without more information, I can't really answer your questions, but it may be a good idea to consult a veterinary oncologist to go over all the options for him. You want to make sure, when all is said and done, that he isn't suffering, and your veterinarian can help you go over options for him as well as expectations. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 10, 2018

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Annie

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Domestic shorthair

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16 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Skin

Annie, a orange rescue cat from Animal Control at 7 mo in 2004, felt like she had small bubble wrap under her skin this past wknd. In Feb 2018, she had a fatty tissue tumor, benign, removed and her teeth cleaned. Her blood work prior was excellent. In Sept 2019, this short haired gal became matted. I made an apt at the groomer I use for my 2 persians, and two days prior I went to the vet so she could see this new development. She did another blood panel and it was excellent for her age again. She sad she just seemed dry and give more liquid like tuna in water juice or chicken broth. Annie didn't like chicken broth so I tried organic chicken bone broth which she loved. I also curried her fur every 2 or 3 days, which she loves, to keep her smooth and simulate the skin. She is eating and drinking well, acts like her normal self, alert, happy, purring nothing different. Until this "bubble wrap" noise under her skin. Took her to the vet today, xrays which I saw show lungs w/filmy stuff all over all but a tiny lower portion of both lungs completely. Vet said she had never seen such poor quality lungs with total physical appearance of all is well. No coughing, breathing issues, distress. She said it could be asma but no breathing issues?? So it must be cancer, not as in a mass/tumor but multiple small masses all over. The "bubble wrap" subcutaneous emphysema must have come from a small tear in the lung that has self closed for now and will dissipate. Vet said she could give her steroids but that could cause another tear? So basically, I've been told go home, love her, be with her and wait for a further decline to decide when to compassionately let her go. Could be a wk or a couple mo?? Still in shock/denial mode so not sure what I should do. See another dr/spec, try homeopathic ideas suggested above. Just numb right now. We just love them so much and want to do the best for them.

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Stuff

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domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

16 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lameness And Black Crust Around Cut

A week ago my beautiful red tabby started favoring his rear paws and I found black crust around the cuticles of both paws. I cleaned him with betadine and warm water, thinking it was litter. Went to vet Tuesday and put him on clavamox. In addition to the medication causing gastrointestinal distress, yesterday his right front paw started bothering him. Today I found out he has lung-digit syndrome. At this point my only option is palliative care to try and keep him comfortable. I would also love to know which turmeric supplement to use. I fear I have little time left with my handsome belly boy but I have other cats with other issues. It would be helpful.

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Fluffy

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Himalayan

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6 Years

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

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hiding, Labored Breathing

My cat Fluffy a gorgeous vivacious Himalayan lynx point came to me the other day with what looked like a sprained ankle, I took her to the vet. They gave her meds & sent her home but she came home and was even worse. I elected to get a re-evaluation, they kept her overnight cause she wasn’t eating or drinking water... when I went to pick her up the radiologist came in & broke the sad news to me. Fluffy is only 6 yrs. old!! She was fine & eating, playing a few days ago. I admit to smoking an e cig In her presence but I’d be across the room & i would turn on one of the ceiling fans we have in each room. We always open windows & sliders for her. They both had fleas at one point they are indoor but we have lots of strays that hang outside. We got rid of the fleas but she had tapeworms I found evidence of them a month ago & took her in for a shot asap. I’m wondering if this weakened her immune system so much, that she came susceptible to this cancer. She had the tapeworms from November til June! I feel awful, her weight was the same. She showed no symptoms of having worms til July. I just lost my other male Himalayan 5 months ago to kidney disease, ever since then her health declined. I’m beside myself, I will search for holistic supplements & CBC oil. I can’t afford the lung scraping/ chemo or radiation & signed up for insurance too late. I don’t have any answers. Is there any hope with this seemingly acute rapid onset?

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Snickers

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Domestic Long Haired

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15 Years

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

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Labored Breathing
Resting All Day And Everyday

Hi my names Mike and my pet Snickers is a 15 year old female cat. I've had her since I was a young boy. Today she was diagnosed with lung cancer Carcinoma and my family and I are devestated, shes family. The vet is recommending surgery but its hard for me to say if thats the right thing to do at her age and if will only make her suffer more then help her. She is currently on prednisone. I have also purchased "life gold" for her and the vet said its okay to use. I dont want her to suffer but I do think she deserves to live longer, shes always been active and playful and just the past week or two its all stopped. Shes an indoor cat, no cigarette smoke in the house or smokers in the house. If anyone would have any medicine or natural remedies they have personally tried and helped i would love to hear all of them. I love my cat like most of you do and i'll do so much to help her. Thank you anybody with any advice.

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kittens

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Maincoon

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8 Weeks

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

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Cigarette Smoke Environment

I am looking to get a kitten, and althouogh I'm not opposed to buying one from a breeder, I am not the type who wants to get some purebread showcat, so I would just as soon rescue some kitten from an unwanted litter. So I went to look at a box of kittens the other day, about 8 weeks old, which the current owner brought out onto her driveway for me to see (didn't get invited inside). All 5 of the kittens smelled of cigarette smoke. Are these little girls likely to have lung problems later on? Am I asking for trouble adopting a kitten who has been breathing in that nastiness for these developmental weeks?

Lung Cancer Average Cost

From 591 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$7,000

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