Prostate Cancer in Cats

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Key takeaways

Cancer of the prostate gland occurs when collections of cells of the prostate divide uncontrollably. 

  • Prostatic tumors are very rare in cats, but more common in dogs and because of this, much of what we know about this condition in cats comes from data about dogs
  • Prostate cancer symptoms might manifest in the urinary tract (difficulty urinating, blood in urine), the digestive tract (constipation, blood in feces), and/or the musculoskeletal system (lameness, partial paralysis)
  • It is unclear what triggers this disease
  • An enlarged prostate can be detected through a physical examination and/or by ultrasound, and confirmed by biopsy
  • Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and palliative care
  • The prognosis is poor due to the high malignancy and aggressiveness of these tumors
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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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Risk factors


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.

Possible causes


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.

Main symptoms


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.

Prevention


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.

Typical Treatment


  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Palliative
  • Steroids
  • Analgesics

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