Cancer in Cats
Remember that any
disease that affects the bone marrow system of your friend can result in an
abnormal production of cells, in this case "lymphocytes". These cells are a
product of the immune system of the body. They are involved in round the clock
protection of the body . An excessive amount of lymphocytes in the blood
generally signals that an attack is on.
Under normal conditions the body
routinely removes billions of unnatural cells every day. However, when there
are a lot of unnatural cells being produced, one may slip through that the
bodyís defenses cannot remove. That cell is called a cancer cell. A cancer is
simply a cell that the body cannot eliminate in time to prevent damage. Since
viruses and the disease symptoms they cause are quite common in our feline
friends ,a condition called lymphocytosis can occur quite readily .
The word "lymphocytosis"
means many, many lymphocytes above the normal amount in the body. I have seen
many feline friends develop this condition after a virus. Many of these
lymphocytosis conditions are resolved by a healthy immune system . I am sure
that many of these conditions go undetected because our feline friends donít
always act sick. Generally , however, a prolonged attack of this kind results
in an mass growing somewhere on the body. Most lymphoma is first discovered by
the presence of an enlarged lymph node or a singular mass on the body, that is
not painful. The mass must be biopsied to accurately diagnose this disease.
The other normal symptoms of illness such as lethargy and inappetance are not
diagnostic of this condition. These could be normal Village behaviors for our
pampered feline friends!
Now that you understand
that a challenge to the immune system produces the conditions for the cancer
of the lymph system called lymphoma, you may remember that Feline Leukemia
virus, Feline Immunodeficiency virus, and any other virus that attacks the
immune system of your friend could result in lymphoma. So lymphoma is not
generally considered a primary condition. Those unfortunate feline friends
that are not routinely vaccinated against leukemia and FIP (feline infectious
peritonitis) often develop lymphoma secondarily. So a simple vaccine program
can reduce the possibility of this disease. Incidentally, I have seen that
feline friends who test positive to feline leukemia virus , after two test of
course, are generally positive for one or more of the other feline diseases.
This is probably due to a weakened immune system.
Treatment: The drugs
used to treat feline lymphoma are the same as those used for humans. The side
effects and prognosis are just as guarded. Our feline friends do not seem to
have as much trouble with vomiting. Please remember that your feline friend is
aging about seven times faster than a human. So the long term predictions for
successful feline lymphoma patients is 3-6 months.
Please give your friends a
hug for me!