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What is Feline Cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. If the spread is not controlled, cancer can result in death. The most obvious symptoms of cancer are tumors, smooth or bumpy, which can appear anywhere on the body and can be seen or felt. However, a wide range of symptoms are possible, depending on the type of cancer.
Interview with Dr. Tobin, DVM
Dr. Stephen Tobin is a holistic veterinarian who providestreatment using homeopathic herbs and nutrition. He speaks with us about hisphilosophy of animal care, pet nutrition, and his experience with the LonglifeProgram in the treatment of his patients.
How Does Longlife Treat Feline Cancer?
A cancerous tumor feeds off vital nutrients that flow through the bloodstream. Researchers have found that shark cartilage stops blood vessels from feeding and growing within the tumor. In clinical studies on the use of shark cartilage supplements, it was found that tumors did not grow larger than 2 millimeters in size, due to an antiangiogenesis effect, or a prohibiting of the growth of new blood vessels inside the tumor.
Longlife for Cats is made from 100% pure shark cartilage and is formulated to promote maximum absorption. Longlife is a helpful tool in the prevention of metastasis during or after chemotherapy and can be combined with chemotherapy to increase appetite and help protect the immune system. Longlife for Cats should be used as supportive supplements, not a substitute for quality care from a trusted veterinarian or oncologist.
About Cancer in Cats
Cancer is the main cause of death among older cats. It's the uncontrolled cell growth that affects a wide range of cells and organs in the body. Cat cancer will manifests as a lump or bump on the body. It will grow rapidly in the affected cell area, attaching itself to the tissue under the skin in that area; and, depending on the size of the tumor, it can spread to other parts of the body. Cancer in cats accounts for approximately half of feline deaths each year; it can be treated if diagnosed early.
It is unknown what exactly causes cancer in cats, feline leukemia (a virus) is believed to be a main contributor. Studies done indicate that toxins from our environment, such as second-hand smoke, contact with chemicals in yards, cleaning products, and other environmental toxins can be ingested when your cat grooms itself.
Detecting cancer in your cat is simple maintenance (feeling the body of your cat) and looking for certain abnormalities such as lumps, bumps, lesions that don't heal. Early diagnosing can be done by your veterinarian. Tests such as physical examinations, ultrasound, x-rays, urine tests and blood work, can help to detect this disease. When the cancer has been diagnosed, then treatments can begin. The sooner treatment begins, the better. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or immune therapy can all be very successful in treating feline cancer. Not enough research has been done to treat feline cancer, but there have been big strides taken in radiation therapy and great improvement in the application of chemotherapy treatments. Cats are diagnosed with cancer at lower rates than dogs or humans, but the symptoms are the same, and the types of cancer are as well.
Signs your Cat Might Have Cancer
All cancers have their own unique symptoms. General consistencies of cat cancer are as follows:
- Difficulty breathing or frequent coughing
- A lump that changes in size or shape
- Stiffness or difficulty getting up
- Having a difficult time defecating or urinating
- A change in bowel movements or bladder habits
- Having a hard time eating or swallowing
- Bleeding or discharge from the body
- Odor from the cat’s mouth
- A lesion or sore that does not heal
- A loss of appetite
- Rapid weight loss
Common Types of Cat Cancer
After cancer has been diagnosed it is very important to determine what type of cancer it is and how you and your veterinarian will proceed. Once you start treating the cat, stay consistent and follow your vet's treatment program. This will lead to a higher success in healing.
Up to 25% of cancer in cats is diagnosed as Lymphoma. It is usually associated with the feline leukemia virus. Lymphoma in your cat usually starts in there digestive system, which causes unusual amounts of vomiting and persistent diarrhea. Swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite, rapid weight loss and hard time breathing are common systems.
Lymphomas show up in fatty tissues, feel soft to the touch, and cling tightly to the area of the tissue, mostly in the organs and body cavities. Surgery is usually done to remove the tumor, but sometimes this tumor cannot be removed because it has firmly imbedded itself too deeply in the area for removal. Cats with Lymphoma- lymph sarcoma (LSA) typically have a FeLV infection. LSA affects the lymphatic tissues, the intestines and abdominal organs. Symptoms are diarrhea, loss of appetite bloody stool, vomiting, weight loss, and constipation. This cancer can be detected by ultrasound, biopsy, or x-rays.
Skin Tumors on Cats
Skin tumors on cats are rare. All cats are susceptible, but light colored cats, white in particular, are more likely to get this type of cancer. This type of cancer affects mostly the vision, smell, and eating habits of your cat. A feline skin tumor will usually start as a lump and with growth will look like a lump under the skin. Benign tumors will take several years to develop and are more difficult to detect because they tend to move more freely.
Mammary Gland Tumors in Cats
The third most common cancer in felines is Mammary gland tumors. They usually occur in older cats, with the most common symptom showing up as a lump on the breast. The tumor is typically firm and sits firmly to the overlaying skin. The nipples will be red, swollen, and secrete a red or yellow fluid.
Abdominal Tumors in Cats
This cancerous tumor is the most difficult to treat and is also the least most common for cats. The success rate is low once it progresses to the advanced stages. Symptoms include vomiting with blood; enlarged stomach, and weight loss. Poor digestion will cause the vomiting and weight loss.
Other Types of Tumors in Cats
Adenomas affect the sebaceous glands in the limbs, eyelids and the head. They are also found in and on the outside of the ears. This type of tumor has a high chance of developing in to hyperthyroidism. This type of Tumor will look like a cauliflower, a wart that has a pinkish and orange color to it. Diagnosing can be done through a biopsy.
Myeloproliferative tumors are passed through bloodlines or genetic disorder. It attacks the bone marrow, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Symptoms include hard time breathing, light colored mucus, weakness, and loss of appetite. Treatment is usually chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant.
Melanomas are not typically found in cats, but when they are, they manifest as basal cell tumors. These tumors are benign in nature, but are firm and raised from the surface of the skin. They are commonly found around the neck, head, ears, and shoulder regions and can be treated through chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Squamous cell carcinomas affect areas where skin color is absent such as the oral cavity, tonsils, lips, nose, eyelids, external ear, limbs, toes and nails, or areas that are under frequent trauma and irritation. Biopsy testing will determine these types of cat cancer. Treatment is surgery, cryotherapy, chemotherapy, radiation and hyperthermia.
Mast cell tumors are one of two types. They are sole or multiple skin nodules that may be ulcerated and pigmented. They can be found on any part of the cat's body. Diagnosis is made by biopsy of the tumor or a cytological examination.
Osteosarcomas mainly affect the joints, bones and lungs. This type of tumor can lead to swelling, lameness, coughing, and breathing difficulties. Diagnosis is done by x-rays and biopsy. Treatment of osteosarcoma is an aggressive surgical intervention that may lead to amputation of the affected limb.
Fibro-sarcomas arise from the fibrous tissues just under the skin. They look to be like an irregular mass on the skin. A biopsy will diagnose this tumor. Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy should follow.
Diagnosing the Type of Cancer
When your cat has a tumor, diagnosing the type of cancer is very Important. This helps to determine the best possible treatment for your feline friend. By determining the type of cancer your cat has, then a treatment plan can go into effect.
A Physical examination is the safest and most common method. Most tumors can be diagnosed by your Vet using physical examination with visual observation and manual palpation.
X-rays are commonly used to present tumors of the internal organs, the gastrointestinal tract, the lungs and bladder.
Ultrasound is used to visualize the tumors inside the body. It permits for the proper diagnosis of tumors. Ultrasound also allows your vet to see the size, and structure of the tumor.
Cytology involves removing some cells from the infected area such as the, nasal area mammary gland secretions, respiratory secretions, bone marrow and lymph nodes. This method can rule out abscesses and cysts.
Nuclear scans can allow the vet to see the liver, the lungs, kidneys, thyroid, spleen, and bones. This has little or no side effects on your pet.
Blood tests are a great way to start. It will confirm what type of cancer your cat has, or if it’s another disease such as leukemia. Blood tests are a biochemical analysis of the blood taken from your cat.
Medical and Holistic Treatments
Surgery can help a great deal if the tumor is in an area that allows removal of all malignant cells. This treatment is expensive. It does allow for a more thorough examination of the tumor and its development. Surgery is the most common treatment option.
Radiation is another option in the fight with cancer. It can help to control the cancer, and in some cases it will cure your pet. Your veterinarian or oncologist can determine if the cancer (Tumor) is suitable for this type of treatment. The treatment can be done internally using implants or externally using radioactive beams. This method can help destroy the cancer cells and it gives your cat low recurring cancer.
Chemotherapy helps in stopping there production of cancer cells that allow it to spread. This treatment has just been allowed to be used by veterinarians. Side effects are loss of bone marrow, hair loss, loss of appetite, and loss of blood. One issue of this treatment has been a low success rate in larger tumors.
Immunotherapy works to get your pet's immune system back in working order. Medical experts think this is where the problem exists. If the immune system works correctly, then the body will not allow a tumor to grow. This treatment stimulates your cat's immune system to fight off the cancer
There are many holistic treatments and many different herbs to treat with, but the main objective is to heal your pet from within. Holistic veterinarians will use many different types of herbs to strengthen the immune system and to repair any cell damage. If you treat the cat from within, and do the least amount of damage to the healthy cells, this will put less stress on other vital organs and the cat can heal. This creates a healthy and happier cat and makes their body stronger and more able to fight off the cancer if it recurs.
Processed food promotes obesity and other diseases. Whole foods are what holistic vets recommend. Low-carb diets, and whole grains help in promoting a healthy pet. A high-quality protein diet is recommended, because processed foods offer very low quality proteins. Some vets recommend a raw meat diet, but this can upset your cat's stomach. Fiber intake is also a very important component to your cat's health. Consult your local holistic vet to expand your cat's diet.
Diet and lifestyle play an important role in your cat ability to help fight off the ravages of cancer. Regulate checkups with your vet is a good plan. If any abnormalities are detected early, prior to advancement, your cat's chances for a full recovery increase significantly. Today we have made great strides in the advancement in research and medicines. Vaccines play a major role in helping the immune system. When the immune system is strong and healthy it does what it's supposed to do - fight off diseases and harmful organisms.
As the cat ages, cutting back on some vaccines may also help in reduction of tumors. Spaying and neutering your cat gives it many health benefits such as greatly reducing the risk for cancer. Neutering your male cat reduces the chances for testicular cancer. Spaying your female cat reduces the risk of ovarian, uterine, and mammary cancers. Spaying also keeps the female from going into heat. The longer you wait to have her spayed, the more risk she is at getting these cancers. The procedure is simple, the ovaries and uterus is removed.
Skin cancer is found in cats who are exposed to long periods in direct sun light.
Ultimately, it's up to us to provide a healthy and safe lifestyle for our cats. Making sure we provide clean, purified water, and good, fresh food. Cats should be kept indoors for most of their lives.