A closer look: Lower Urinary Tract Cancers in Cats
The lower urinary tract encompasses the bladder, ureter, and prostate (in males) for cats. Any disease which affects the lower urinary tract can present with similar symptoms, making these cancers difficult to initially identify.
Sometimes lower urinary tract tumors can cause urinary obstruction, which is a life-threatening emergency. Even without this symptom, cats are likely to be in discomfort, and prompt veterinary intervention may be helpful to the outcome. Most lower urinary tract cancers in cats are malignant and have a guarded prognosis. Lower urinary tract cancers are uncommon in cats.
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Male cats are at a higher risk than females, and older cats are more likely to develop lower urinary tract cancers.
A common location for these cancers to spread is the lungs. In advanced stages, respiratory symptoms like rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, or coughing may be present.
Tumors and cancers rarely have a single known cause. In most cases, there appears to be a complex mix of risk factors. Both genetic and environmental factors may play a role. It has also been proposed that chronic bladder infections and inflammation may increase the risk of developing bladder cancers.
The signs of urinary tract tumors depend on what area of the urinary system is affected. Recurring urinary tract infections are common.
Testing and diagnosis
Diagnosis of lower urinary tract cancers begins with a complete physical examination. As signs mirror those of UTIs, this is ruled out first by urinalysis, urine culture, and diagnostic imaging. Once a diagnosis of cancer is suspected, biopsies are often taken of the affected tissues to characterize and stage the cancer.
Steps to Recovery
Surgery to remove part of the bladder (partial cystectomy), or to debulk a tumor may be an option, depending on tumor location. Additional treatments may include radiation therapy, NSAIDs, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and urethral/ureteral stent placement, as the case indicates.
Even with prompt and aggressive treatment, the prognosis for lower urinary tract cancers in cats is guarded. These tumors have high metastatic potential and are likely to recur after excision.
There is no specific prevention for lower urinary tract cancers. They are not contagious.
Is Lower Urinary Tract Cancers in Cats common?
Lower urinary tract cancer is uncommon in cats. Prostatic tumors in cats are very rare.
- Palliative care
- Treatment of secondary UTIs (antibiotics)