Lymphoma can be categorized by the affected anatomical location, by grade, and by cell type.
Common locations of lymphoma in cats include:
GI lymphoma is the most common form of lymphoma in cats. Diagnosis is complicated as symptoms are indistinguishable from those of inflammatory bowel disease.
Mediastinal lymphoma usually affects young cats (less than five years of age). The mediastinum is a sheet of tissue that contains the heart, the trachea, and the esophagus. Mediastinal lymphoma is commonly associated with FeLV infection. Cats with mediastinal lymphoma have a shorter lifespan than other cats because of secondary complications, with most cats surviving 3-12 months after diagnosis.
Nasal lymphoma is a rare, localized lymphoma affecting the nose. The prognosis is good, with most cats living 1.5-2.5 years after diagnosis.
Renal lymphoma is an aggressive form of lymphoma affecting the kidneys. The median survival rate is 3 to 6 months. Half of all cats with renal lymphoma are positive for FeLV.
Lymphoma can also be present in other parts of the body and internal organs.
The grades of lymphoma refer to the rate at which the cells divide.
High-grade lymphoma: the most malignant form of lymphoma. These lymphomas tend to have a poorer prognosis and are more prone to metastasis (spreading). Most cats with high-grade lymphomas live approximately 6-8 months after diagnosis, however some forms of aggressive lymphomas have an even shorter survival time.
Low-grade lymphoma: the least malignant form of lymphoma. In most cases, these types of lymphoma have a better prognosis.
The different cell types of lymphoma are:
Small cell lymphoma is generally less malignant than all other forms of lymphoma. The prognosis is good, with most cats living 2-4 years after diagnosis.
Large cell lymphoma is a more malignant form of cancer. The prognosis is poor, and many cats live less than 60 days after diagnosis.
Lymphoma requires prompt veterinary assessment. Early diagnosis and treatment increase the possibility of prolonged remission.
Lymphoma is a common malignant cancer that affects cats over ten years of age. GI tract lymphoma is the most common form of lymphoma in cats, but any organ can be affected.
Cats that contract FeLV or FIV have a higher risk of developing lymphoma. Both male and female cats are subject to the risk of lymphoma. Intact, outdoor, male cats have a slightly higher risk of developing lymphoma due to their increased risk of contracting FIV and FeLV from fighting behaviors. Siamese cats and related breeds seem to be more prone to lymphoma.
Lymphoma is the uncontrolled proliferation of lymphocytes.
Potential contributing factors of lymphoma:
The first step in diagnosis is a physical examination, which may identify enlarged lymph nodes common with this type of cancer. If lymphoma is suspected, the following diagnostics are typically performed:
To definitively diagnose lymphoma and determine the type and severity, a biopsy submission is required.
Treatment depends on the type, severity, and stage of cancer. Therapeutic plans can include:
Cats with lymphoma are often unwilling to eat or drink appropriately. Supportive care that may be provided includes:
Prognosis and remission rates for lymphoma are highly variable depending on the kind, severity, stage of cancer, and whether the cat is FeLV positive. Without treatment, the prognosis is extremely poor, with most cats dying within 4 to 8 weeks from diagnosis.
Remission is the stage in which cancer cells are not detectable in the animal's system. The goal of treatment is long-term remission or improving quality of life, not a complete cure. Across all types of lymphomas, about 50-80% of cats achieve remission, lasting for an average of 4-9 months.
While lymphoma is not contagious, FeLV and FIV are, and they can lead to the development of lymphoma. Testing, vaccinating, and keeping cats indoors are the best strategies to prevent FeLV and FIV infection.
Frequent veterinary check-ups increase the probability of early diagnosis of lymphoma which can improve the animal's chances of survival.
Lymphoma is the most common form of malignant cancer in felines. Cats that are positive for FeLV or FIV are more prone to developing lymphoma.