A closer look: Prostate Cancer in Cats
The prostate is a small gland found near the neck of the urinary bladder, through which the urethra passes on its way to the outside of the body. It makes components of semen and acts to switch urethral function between urination and ejaculation.
Prostate cancer in cats is very rare, and most cats do not show any signs until the tumor has progressed to an advanced stage. Symptoms are similar to those of other, more common prostatic diseases like infection (prostatitis) and benign prostatic hyperplasia, so an accurate diagnosis is crucial. Timely veterinary intervention may help prevent metastasis.
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Prostate cancer can affect both intact and neutered males. Most cases are caught after the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. In more serious cases where the tumor has spread, symptoms like lethargy, loss of appetite, and weight loss may be present.
The causes of prostate cancer are not fully understood. There is a genetic factor in dogs, but no similar pattern has been found in cats.
Testing and diagnosis
Diagnosis of a potential case of prostate cancer begins with a full physical exam. An enlarged or irregular prostate can be felt by rectal palpation, or may be identified by ultrasound. Definitive diagnosis requires biopsy, but there are risks to this procedure, so diagnosis may be presumptive based on clinical signs. Typical steps include blood work, diagnostic imaging, urinalysis, and analysis of cells flushed from the prostate.
Steps to Recovery
Treatment may be surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or palliative care only (steroids and pain management).
Most prostate cancers are aggressive, and by the time they are found, the cancer has often spread to other parts of the body. Due to its rarity in cats, effective treatment protocols have not been fully developed. Even with treatment, the prognosis is likely poor. Prompt diagnosis may improve the prognosis, or identify the cancer before it spreads.
There is no known prevention for prostate cancer in cats. It is not contagious.
Is Prostate Cancer in Cats common?
Prostate cancer is extremely rare in cats.
- Radiation therapy