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What is Pancreatic Cancer?

If a veterinarian diagnoses your cat with pancreatic cancer, it means your cat has a malignant tumor affecting the function of her pancreas. Your veterinarian may also refer to this tumor as a pancreatic adenocarcinoma, which distinguishes it from a non-benign tumor, or pancreatic adenoma. Adenocarcinomas are serious and often fatal. It is extremely important that you contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your cat may be suffering from pancreatic cancer. 

Your cat’s pancreas is responsible for the production of digestive enzymes and insulin. The pancreas is a critically important organ for digestion and the maintenance of healthy blood sugars. Any type of pancreatic insufficiency, the failure of the pancreas to produce the enzymes and hormones for which it is responsible, is serious and potentially fatal for your cat. One condition that may lead to pancreatic insufficiency in cats is a malignant or nonmalignant tumor.

Pancreatic Cancer Average Cost

From 320 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer in Cats

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer in cats may not manifest until late in the disease process. The symptoms of pancreatic cancer are very similar to those of pancreatitis, and your veterinarian will likely perform tests to eliminate a diagnosis of pancreatitis if he suspects your cat may have pancreatic cancer. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately if your cat is exhibiting one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

If pancreatic cancer has advanced and spread to other organs, your cat may exhibit symptoms not specific to any one organ system, such as:

  • Bone or skeletal pain
  • Labored breathing
  • Hair loss
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
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Causes of Pancreatic Cancer in Cats

The exact cause of pancreatic cancer in cats is not understood at this time. Pancreatic cancer is more common among older cats, suggesting it may be related to advanced age or a combination of risk factors. Some cats and cat breeds are also genetically predisposed to cancer, suggesting there may be an inherited genetic component.

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Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer in Cats

Your veterinarian will begin the diagnostic process with a comprehensive physical examination and collection of a comprehensive medical history. If the tumor is large enough, your veterinarian may palpate the mass near your cat's pancreas. While this is a good clue that a cat has a pancreatic tumor, it is not a definitive method of diagnosis. 

The next step in the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in cats is the collection of urine and blood samples. Your veterinarian will order a chemistry profile, complete blood count and urine culture performed on these samples. Pancreatic cancer in cats typically manifests in labs as elevated white blood cells, low potassium, elevated bilirubin (jaundice), azotemia (build-up of metabolic waste in the blood), elevated blood sugars, and elevated liver enzymes. However, a cat whose cancer has not progressed may not exhibit any of these clinical findings. In that event, further diagnostic tests may be ordered.

Radiography (x-ray) imaging may show fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity. Ultrasonography may be used to visualize a soft mass over the pancreas.The only conclusive test for pancreatic cancer in cats, however, is a biopsy of the mass guided by an ultrasound or exploratory surgery. Your veterinarian will weigh the risk of performing these diagnostic procedures against the benefit of a confirmatory diagnosis.

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Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer in Cats

If your veterinarian chooses to perform exploratory surgery, he will likely remove part or all of your cat's pancreas at the time of surgery. If the cancer has not metastasized and spread at this point, the chance of uncomplicated recovery is great.

In the event a cat's cancer has spread, as with late-stage cancers, your veterinarian may attempt surgical resection of the tumors. The success rate of this surgery is low, however. Unfortunately, there has been little success using radiation therapy or chemotherapy to treat pancreatic cancer in cats.

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Recovery of Pancreatic Cancer in Cats

While advanced stages of pancreatic cancer in cats may carry a grave prognosis, there are some pain management and anti-inflammatory options to offer cats relief. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs are useful to reduce inflammation of the pancreas and relieve pain. 

Following surgery for diagnosis or tumor resection, the surgical site should be kept clean. Follow-up appointments with your veterinarian are crucial while the surgical site is healing to prevent infection or complications. 

A cat with pancreatic cancer may also suffer unpleasant gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Follow-up appointments with your veterinarian are important to keep a cat comfortable through these symptoms. A veterinarian may prescribe medications or a special diet to aid digestion.

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Pancreatic Cancer Average Cost

From 320 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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Pancreatic 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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Siamese Tabby

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness

My cat started losing his fur around 8/6. We've gone to two vets, had him put on prednisolone, but he continues to lose fur. His back paws are bare as is his belly. And his skin is coming off like peeling skin of a sunburn. He can't eat dry food because it hurts but will eat soft food. He seems to have troubles eating though. He is having troubles walking (paw pads are just bare) so climbing into the cat box is difficult. He is wetting on himself and defecating outside the box and just laying in it.

Aug. 20, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

So sorry to hear about your cat. There are many reasons for hair loss in cats. If he does not get better, it may be best to take a small skin sample and send off to a dermatopathologist to see what is causing these issues. Your vet should be able to do this or a veterinary dermatologist should be able to help him. Good Luck.

Aug. 20, 2020

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Siamese Tabby

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness

My cat started losing his fur around 8/6. We've gone to two vets, had him put on prednisolone, but he continues to lose fur. His back paws are bare as is his belly. And his skin is coming off like peeling skin of a sunburn. He can't eat dry food because it hurts but will eat soft food. He seems to have troubles eating though. He is having troubles walking (paw pads are just bare) so climbing into the cat box is difficult. He is wetting on himself and defecating outside the box and just laying in it.

Aug. 20, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

So sorry to hear about your cat. There are many reasons for hair loss in cats. If he does not get better, it may be best to take a small skin sample and send off to a dermatopathologist to see what is causing these issues. Your vet should be able to do this or a veterinary dermatologist should be able to help him. Good Luck.

Aug. 20, 2020

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Kat

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tabby

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15 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Pancreatitis And Internal Abcess

My 15 year old cat has had two serious bouts of pancreatitus. We have changed diets and for about a year she has not had symptoms. I have been cat sitting for 9 days and the other cat is not on a special diet. Although we try to keep our cat out of the food she has had some of the science diet the other eats. Yesterday I had to rush her to the vet and she has severe pancreatitus and internal abcesses. Can this be caused by 9 days of eating the other cats food?

Aug. 12, 2018

Kat's Owner

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Sudden dietary changes especially in a sensitive cat may cause pancreatic issues but I cannot say that the other food is the specific cause in this case; you should follow your Veterinarian’s instructions and monitor for improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 12, 2018

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Curi

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Cat

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9 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Excessive Stooling

My cat was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which has not metastasized. He had surgery for mass removal and is recovering nicely. He is eating, urinating and stooling. His stools are VERY abundant. It is soft and formed, light orange in color. He used to stool once a day, now its about twice a day and large enough that if you didnt know better, you would think it was a dog! Is this representative of his pancreatic cancer and is this interfering with his weight gain as he has been very slow to gain weight? What can we do?

Aug. 11, 2018

Curi's Owner

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I cannot say that an increase in defecation (size or frequency) is a factor of this surgery; however changes in faecal colour is attributable to issues with a lack of bile pigments being excreted. You should keep a close eye on Curi and follow up with your Veterinarian as directed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 11, 2018

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Moo

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domestic short hair

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8 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss

So our 8 year old cat was losing weight around February of this year. He used to weigh 16pds and when we took him In for a normal checkup was down to 14. We got blood work done and everything came back fine except his liver count was a bit high. Long story short the vet recommended we get an ultrasound done in a couple weeks if we notice anymore weight loss. So we did, and it came back saying he has a small mass in his pancreas. We had hope because they said there was very little blood flow going to it so surgery to remove it would be an option. So we went ahead and did the surgery just this past Monday. They could not remove it because they said it would of been to detrimental for him and he might not of survived. They did manage to get a biopsy of the mass along with the lymph nodes that attached itself to the liver. Today Thursday we got the results back and his liver is fine but the mass is pancreatic acarsonoma. She said kemo is an option but will not stop it just slow it down and if no treatment he will Live maybe 2 months. My question is why couldn’t we remove the pancreas and just give him whatever he needs? Such as insulin or whatever is needed for that kind of surgery. Or should I get a second opinion? He is only 9, was eating well and playing and everything before this surgery. Obviously anybody that has there stomach cut open is going to need to recover, but it’s terrible to think that nothing else can be done when all of his other vital signs and organs r fine. Please help Steffanie

July 27, 2018

Moo's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Removing the pancreas is not a procedure that is commonly done, as it performs so many vital functions, and carcinomas are aggressive cancers. If your veterinarian saw that the entire pancreas was affected, they probably made the decision for him that removing it would be futile. Since I don't know more about Moo's situation, I can't say for sure, but if you do have any more questions, it is always reasonable to ask more questions of your veterinarian, or to seek a second opinion.

July 27, 2018

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Ben

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Siamese cat

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9 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy, Not Eating, Growling , No

My 9 yr old male Siamese Cat stopped eating 1 month ago except the one cat treat that I cit into tiny little pieces and wake up at all hrs of the night to feed him. If you have a Siamese you know what I mean, they are quit vocal. I took him to the vet 2 weeks ago and she said he didnt look dehydrated, that he hadn’t lost any weight since his well check 1 month prior so she set up his teeth to be cleaned and sent us on our way. My “Ben” has continued to decline. Yesterday at the vet she did a full blood panel, thyroid, leukemia again, gave him fluids sub Q, nausea meds via shot and xrays. The report said he has no food in his small intestines. She now recommends a ultra sound Tuesday to rile out pancreatic cancer. Its 2:06 an and he just had 1 tsp of dry food . The weird thing is he sleeps next to my head but when his bestie came into the room our other cat “Theo” Ben made weird growling noises. What is that about. Ive never heard this before. Is it he’s in pain and doesnt want another cat around him? What is it. He is my therapy cat. He wakes me during PTSD nightmares. Hes beautiful white with baby blue eyes. I just know I cant go through another loss. Please provide any help you can. I have tried 8 types of wet food, cooked real chicken, tuna and mashed it in case he had a abad too the. He ate the chicken for a couple meals, 1 tbspn but hes not eating anymore. What would you do? Do I go ahead with the Ultra sound. I’ can’t stand the possibility of him being in pain or nausea. Thank you

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Elsa

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Korea domestic cat

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3 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

No Symptom

HI, I am living in Seoul, South Korea. Last week, my cat was diagnose as pancreatic cancer and got survey to remove end of pancreas, vessel to spleen and entire spleen. As carcinoma covered vessel to spleen and doctors could not help removing spleen. Now vet have sent carcinoma to the lap to determine this is benign or malignant. This cancer was found at already stage and there is no metastasis fortunately. There were no symptom that are presented commonly in my cat and vet confirmed that all figures related to pancreas are normal. My cat is only 3 years old. I sent CT result to major hospital, but they all said this is rate cast as my cat is too young.. can you share any similar cases in particular, pancreatic cancer for young cats? I would like to do everything that i can do to have my cat recovered. to get info and advice, i found this site and wrote my experiences. Thank you in advance.

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Catniss

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Unknown

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6 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss

My cat began drinking a lot of water and losing weight. We intially passed this by as it started when the weather started to get very hot. When she began to lose more and more weight we started to get worried. We took her to the vet and they did a bunch of tests. Everything came back negative. They suggested she may be diabetic so we treated her for that. We were given sugar pills to help regulate her insulin levels but after the first pill she refused to take them. While she refused to take the pills she also stopped eating and became very lethargic. We called the vet and they said that it sounded like some form of incurable cancer that may not have shown on the test. So they prepared us for the worst. And within two days she died. We’re still not sure exactly what killed her,especially with her being only six; any ideas?

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Milo

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American medium hair

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14 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Very Skinny, Hair Loss, Dark Spots

My cat, Milo, is almost 13 years old and has been diagnosed with pancreatitis. He was prescribed cerenia and prednisolone. He seemed to be getting better but then started to urinate in odd places. He is also very hungry all the time. My vet ran tests, believes he has a cancer, but shows normal liver and kidney function with elevation of protein. She is perplexed by his symptoms. So far, his energy is pretty stable, and he eats well. He is also dehydrated but drinks and eats well. Can you help diagnose what may be going on?

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Lucky

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Long hair domestic

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19 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss, Hair Loss, Lethargy,

Lucky, my 19 year old male cat recently manifested loss of weight and loss of hair as well as disorientation and episodes of unknown cause. He was recently diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and severe low blood sugar. Kidney and liver enzymes we're not elevated, however he did ppresent with a heart murmur, which the vet said was not uncommon in cats with hyperthyroidism. He is puzzled as to what is causing the low blood sugar as it did not go up after eating or upon infusion with glucose intravenously. He will no longer eat on his own and only licks at his food when I try to handfeed him. By adding water to wet food I can usually get about one fourth can in him during the course of a day, which I know is not enough to sustain him. Vet suggested an ultrasound to rule out pancreatic cancer, however, at this point I wonder if that would be helpful. He alternates between sleeping all day and pacing. I am wondering if I should just have him sedated. I think we are facing the inevitable. What do you think?

Pancreatic Cancer Average Cost

From 320 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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