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What is Lymphoma?

Cats diagnosed with lymphoma tend to be middle-aged or older, although cats can develop lymphoma at any age. While there are no breed dispositions for lymphoma, cats who have had either leukemia or immunodeficiency virus have a higher risk of developing lymphoma.

Lymphoma is a common type of malignant cancer that forms when there is an uncontrolled growth in the number of lymphocytes in the immune system. The primary function of lymphocytes is to protect the cat from foreign bodies or substances that may cause harm. The cancer is most commonly found within the gastrointestinal tract, though it may affect any and all parts of the lymphatic system.

Lymphoma Average Cost

From 531 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$6,500

Symptoms of Lymphoma in Cats

Since lymphoma can occur in various parts of the body, including the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes, symptoms may vary depending on the location of the cancer. It is imperative that you take your cat to the vet immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Enlarged or swollen lymph nodes
  • Weight loss associated with loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Panting
  • Insomnia or restlessness
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Depression

If the following severe symptoms are present, the cancer is in a crisis stage and requires immediate veterinary attention.

  • Seizures
  • Labored breathing
  • Excessive meowing

Lymphoma that is left untreated has a rapid and high mortality rate. Consult your vet immediately in order to ensure the best prognosis possible.

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Causes of Lymphoma in Cats

Lymphoma is caused when lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, begin to proliferate, or multiply rapidly at an uncontrolled rate. These cells produce antibodies that help fight disease. Lymphocytes travel through a network of blood vessels through several parts of the body, including the kidneys, chest, gastrointestinal tract, nose, spine, and skin. This network is known as the lymphatic system.

There is also a predisposition for lymphoma in cats who have previously suffered from leukemia or the immunodeficiency virus, though this link is not fully understood. Cats who live in homes with an active smoker also have a higher risk for developing gastrointestinal lymphoma.

Different forms of the cancer will reflect different symptoms; if the lymphoma occurs in the skin, you may notice redness, flakiness, or excessive itching. If it occurs in the gastrointestinal tract, a mass may form or the abdomen may become distended.

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Diagnosis of Lymphoma in Cats

Your vet will first carry out a physical examination to identify protruding tumor masses. They will likely ask you questions about the cat’s disease history, so be prepared to answer any questions they may have about this or your cat’s symptoms.

Your vet may also use a number of tests in order to confirm a diagnosis of lymphoma. These include blood tests, cell count, urinalysis, and biopsy. If cancer is suspected in the gastrointestinal tract, chest, liver, or spleen, your vet may also perform chest x-rays and ultrasounds. The vet may also test for feline leukemia and immunodeficiency viruses.

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Treatment of Lymphoma in Cats

The most effective treatment for cats diagnosed with lymphoma is chemotherapy. This will involve the use of several types of chemotherapeutic drugs. Chemotherapy has the highest chance of putting affected cats into the remission stage.

In some cases, particularly with lymphoma located in the gastrointestinal tract, surgery may be required to remove a physical mass. Radiation treatment may also be used in cats that are unable to undergo chemotherapy.

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Recovery of Lymphoma in Cats

Unlike chemotherapy for humans, chemotherapy for cats will not cause hair loss, but may cause unwanted side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and fever. Your vet may prescribe additional palliative treatment methods to reduce these side effects, including nutritional therapy, and pain management medication.

You will need to ensure that your cat gets plenty of rest during the recovery period. If your cat has had surgery, do not allow it to irritate the surgery site. Always follow your vet’s instructions or recommended courses of treatment to the letter.

There is no cure for lymphoma, but with early detection, immediate action, and swift treatment, your cat will have a better chance of surviving the disease. Your cat will also have a reduced risk for developing lymphoma if you have them vaccinated against feline leukemia and immunodeficiency virus. Ask your vet about these vaccinations, especially if your cat is middle aged.

Unfortunately, due to the aggressive nature of the disease, cats affected by lymphoma generally have a poor prognosis. This is why early detection and treatment are key when it comes to maximizing survival time as well as quality of life. Cats that are older than seven years should have their blood tested by a vet every six months as a preventative measure.

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Lymphoma Average Cost

From 531 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$6,500

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Lymphoma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Tessy

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

13 Years

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

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss, Eating A Lot, Unkempt

My sisters cat was diagnosed with lymphoma 21 mths ago and has not received any treatment. If she has the slow action lymphoma can she survive this long. I am concerned she was misdiagnosed and actually had hyperthyroidism. Is this possible? My understanding is that hyperthyroidism is quite treatable however left too long it can be rater. I appreciate you must suffer from many fools who misdiagnose, but from everything I have read it is virtually impossible for this cat to still be eating (large amounts) and playing almost two years after being diagnosed.

July 16, 2018

Tessy's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Twenty-one months without any treatment is a long time, however without examining Tessy myself I cannot say whether or not a misdiagnosis was made; if you suspect that Tessy my have been misdiagnosed you should contact your Veterinarian or another Veterinarian (for a second opinion) for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 17, 2018

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Negro

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Calico

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

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

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures Walking

My kitty who is 8’has lymphoma. We been tearing him for 3 months with steroids. 48 hours ago he started walking and falling and having petite seizures. I am giving him Neurontin which helps with the seizures but he continues to walk or try to wal nonstop. I don’t know what to do. I hate to think of euthanasia as I don’t believe in it for animals but I don’t want him to suffer.

July 15, 2018

Negro's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Euthanasia is something which whilst not pleasant to think about, does stop the suffering of an animal and relieves the psychological burden of an owner; it does have its place in veterinary (and human) medicine. Without examining him I cannot determine whether any further treatment would be of benefit and would recommend that you follow up with your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 16, 2018

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Smokie

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short hair

dog-age-icon

16 Years

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

Serious severity

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2 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss, Decreased Appetite, Nt

Our cat was just diagnosed with lymphoma found in the spleen and liver. We have consented to chemotherapy treatments but are second guessing ourselves. She is 16 years old and we were told her treatment would take 16-20 weeks and her lifespan expectation would be 9-10 months. They didn't say after treatment or including treatment time. We are very confused as to what to do. We don't want her to suffer anymore than necessary. We want to help her as much as we can but not suffer. We could use your suggestions please.

May 27, 2018

Smokie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

That is a very hard decision to make, and I am sorry that that is happening to Smokie. If the chemotherapy is relatively stress free, it may be worth doing to have her around a little while longer, but if she is stressed by visits and the chemotherapy involves many veterinary visits, it may be kinder to her to let her enjoy the time that she has left. Prednisone is a stress free type of minimal chemotherapy, and I'm not sure what other treatments were discussed. It would be best to contact your veterinarian, ask what will be involved with her therapy, and decide whether the extra time is worth any stress for her.

May 27, 2018

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Mili

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Black Tabby

dog-age-icon

6 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

No Appetite, Short Breathing,Cancer

This Tuesday 5/22/18 my cat mili was diagnosed with cancer (lymphoma) I believe that's how it's spelled. And she has a huge bump on her nipple. An they said it spread to her lungs. An that once it does nothing you can can do about it. An they also removed a small amount of fluid, to Help take pressure off lungs. My cat is only 6yrs old. She started having breathing problems 2 days before I took her to vet.. like shortness of breath which they said was cause of less room in her lungs. Well they suggested that this Friday I think about euthanization cause I guess it spread to far.. I just wanted someone else's advice. On if I could save her or not. With treatment or somthing .. Been reading up as much as I can to se what I can do.. But I wanna make sure she won't stop breathing in the middle of the night.. Do cats breath like that for a while With the cancer before they pass? Or Does that mean she doesn't have much time.. She won't really eat nor Drink. I use a syringe to help Her drink.. And eat. Any advice on what to do to help her be comfortable , or if you know if her breathing will Just keep getting worse then I'll know when to take her to vet. Or will she stay shortness of breath consistent. I guess I wanna know if her breathing like this means either she is dying or If it's just part of the cancer disease .

May 24, 2018

Mili's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I'm sorry that that is happening to Mili, that is very sad. Her breathing is probably related to the cancer being in her lungs, and if she has fluid building up, I think she may be suffering and not able to breathe. It is important that she doesn't suffer, and you may need to make a decision for her.

May 24, 2018

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Sushi

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tabby

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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

Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Pacing
Meowing

My cat was diagnosed with either lymphoma or something similar (I couldn't afford the biopsy but the specialist was pretty sure it was advanced lymphoma) there is a giant mass in her stomach, smaller ones in her throat, kidney & spleen. She is still eating a lot but recently started meowing a lot & pacing, which recently she's been more quiet & lethargic. Should I be considering pain pills or euthanasia? Or something else? I'm hoping pain pills or something else.

April 28, 2018

Sushi's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

If Sushi isnt on any medications, your veterinarian may be able to prescribe somethinng to help keep her comfortable a while longer. Since I can't examine her, it would be best to either call or visit your veterinarian, let them know what is going on, and see if there are any medications that might help her stay comfortable.

April 28, 2018

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Biggie

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dsh

dog-age-icon

15 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

Weight Loss, Lethargy

My cat was diagnosed with likely large cell lymphoma after an ultrasound found several enlarged lymph nodes, a mottled spleen and thickened jejonum. He had lost several pounds in the last month and eating about half of what he should. He has a history of pancreatitis. Will prednisolone help? If so, are there any side effects?

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Charlie

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domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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

Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Lethargy
Vomiting
Loss Of Appetite

My 5 year old cat, Charlie, was just diagnosed with lymphoma. A needle aspirate from his liver is what was used to determine his diagnoses. He was diagnosed as a young kitten with feline leukemia so we knew this was a potential but just hoped it would never happen. Charlie started exhibiting symptoms a few weeks back; at first it was just the loss of appetite and sleeping more. My husband and I initially thought that maybe he was getting bored and we needed to switch some things up for him, but a couple more days of him being that way and seemingly getting worse prompted urgent action on our end. We took him to our vet that day to see what her take would be on his symptoms. It was confirmed that he had indeed lost about a pound and a half and was not well. His blood work was taken and there were abnormalities found. We were sent back home with him and a prescription of 0.8cc of Metronidazole (antibiotic) every 12 hours and 1.0cc of Prednisone (steroid) every 24 hours. It was rough... he hated the Metronidazole and was prone to vomiting it or trying to get rid of it with very thick, ropey drool. My husband and I would partner up to make sure we were following all the steps for dosing appropriately: head up, whiskers back, syringe to the back of the mouth, massaging the throat and chin while gently blowing in the nose, being calm and reassuring... Unfortunately, it was still difficult for both him and us each time-especially when he would vomit right after a dosing. After about 2-3 days of dosing he seemed to return to his old self for a couple of days but then the symptoms came back. He was no longer eating and was not drinking much either, he also seemed even more lethargic. Back to the vet we went. When we brought him back to the vet it was discovered that he'd lost another pound and a half and was dehydrated. He was given subQ fluids, a shot of anti-nausea, a long-acting shot of antibiotics and was sent home with a prescription of 1/4 tab of Mirtazpine (appetite stimulant) every 72 hours. While there they also took further blood work and biopsy to send off to Texas A&M for GI testing. The testing results for that came back that he was showing signs of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI). We had an ultrasound scheduled to see if it would help reveal the underlying cause of the EPI. In the meantime, Charlie still was not eating or drinking enough even with the appetite stimulant. We brought him back to the vet for a feeding tube to be inserted. We understood that the benefits of his body getting fuel put back into it outweighed our discomfort with going this route. It also helped that our research showed that cats are usually un-bothered with a feeding tube. The vet wanted to keep Charlie a few days after the feeding tube procedure to ensure that he would take well to it (they also needed to swap the tube to a more user-friendly one). He ended up staying at the vet's office as his ultrasound was coming up in the next day. The ultrasound results showed that Charlie had an enlarged spleen, liver and enlarged lymph nodes in his abdomen. A needle aspirate of these came back as positive for lymphoma today. We were told the prognosis is not good (potentially few days to few weeks). I typed this out mainly to help organize my thoughts, and while it definitely helped, I still feel somewhat helpless. Of course we want to extend his life, but not at the cost of his quality of life. Are there questions that we should be asking or routes of treatment we should explore? Is this something that could be easily mis-diagnosed? These are just a few of the many questions that are swirling around my mind.

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Sammy

dog-breed-icon

Taby

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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

Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Anemia
Jaundice
Lack Of Appetite

We have a 7 year old male cat (sammy) that we took into the vets a week ago because he had stopped eating. They said he was anemic and jaudice, took blood, and gave a steroid and appetite stimulant shot and the next day he ate a little, but then stopped again. We took him in yesterday and he is feline leukemia negative (-), but they suspect some type of lymphatic cancer. They gave another round of steroid and appetite shots, prescribed predisone, but he has lost over 3 pounds. If he does not start eating should we op for some type of feeding tube? Is there nutritional shots or iv's we could give him? Is there other ways to get a sick cat to eat? We've tried canned tuna and other flavors of various canned food, added chicken broth and canned tuna juice to the dry food. even cooked up chicken and steak for him to try. He just won't eat. I feel if he could eat and build up strength, we could try and start treatments for the cancer or whatever is causing his jaundice, but without eating, he's just getting thinner and thinner. We can't give him the predizone as he will not eat. I don't want to force feed and stress him our further. Any suggestions?

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Arnie

dog-breed-icon

Russian Blue

dog-age-icon

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

Weight Loss
Loss Of Appetite

Saw two different vets--2 different diagnoses. First vet said it was "leiomyosarcoma" without an x-ray or biopsy. Second vet was much more conservative. She said in 30 years as a vet, she has never seen a case of Leiomyosarcoma and could not say what it was exactly without a biopsy. She said her "guess" would be Lymphoma, as the mass was in his intestines/abdomen area. All blood work was normal for our 15.5 year old cat. He was given an appetite stimulant by the first vet and since we decided against chemo with the 2nd vet, we are trying Prednisone. He is acting normally--eating, drinking, using the box and even playing sometimes.

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Mir

dog-breed-icon

dsh

dog-age-icon

16 Years

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

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Lethargy
Loss Of Appetite
Seizure

Our domestic short-hair, Mir, was diagnosed with small cell lymphoma after exploratory surgery at age 13. She's lost quite a bit of weight, and one day had a mini seizure and just lay on her side panting. The vet suspected IBS or some form of intestinal cancer, and suggested explorative surgery + biopsy was the only way to eb certain. The surgery was pretty hard on her at that age, but she came through okay (although she HATED the feeding tube that was in for several day post-op) She's been on a combo of oral chemo (chlorambucil tablets) and steroids (prednisolone) for almost 3 years now. Started daily, now down to once every four days. It's not been cheap keeping our fur baby happy and healthy. Surgery set us back a couple of thousand $, plus medication is about $150/ month, plus 6-monthly specialist checkups). But we are so lucky that we got this diagnosed early and seem to have if not beaten the cancer, then at least kept it in remission. Mir is a happy older girl of 16 now, and has no idea that's she's unwell at all, although she's now an indoors only cat as immune system is compromised by the drugs. My husband and I have agreed we'll revisit the situation if she shows any signs of distress, but so far we've been lucky. Lots of people think we're mad to have spent that much on a cat, but she's so special to us, and I cannot imagine doing anything less for her.

Lymphoma Average Cost

From 531 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$6,500

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