The liver is an important organ of detoxification in the body. Every human being and pet is exposed to carcinogens. These carcinogens are substances that cause cancer. The liver purifies these carcinogens to a large extent, keeping the toxicity levels down.
In contrast for cats, the fungi that appear on spoiled cat food, pesticides, food additives, dyes, and plant and animal tissues become toxic only after being metabolized by the liver. These substances can therefore potentially cause feline cancer in the liver of cats.
Primary liver tumors are rare in cats, and most often liver cancer in cats appears as a result of metastasis from other cancers. Primary liver tumors can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors do not cause much trouble to the cat unless they grow big enough to encroach upon nearby organs. In certain cases, benign tumors in the liver may result in lowering blood sugar levels in the cat.
A malignant liver tumor can also metastasize and affect other parts of the body. The most disturbing aspect of malignant tumors is that they are usually in an advanced stage by the time they are diagnosed. The reason behind this is that the symptoms of liver cancer in cats and dogs are not unique. They can relate to many other conditions which make diagnosis difficult. Some conditions of the liver that produce symptoms similar to liver cancer are listed below:
- Inflammation of the liver and the surrounding organs
- Pus-filled abscesses in the liver similar to the ones that you often appear on the skin of the cat
- An injury or rupturing of the liver that causes blood to clot and form hematomas
If you notice symptoms like vomiting without reason, losing weight, not eating properly, a bloated stomach or jaundice, it is best to get your cat checked for a liver tumor.
A medical history and physical examination prove helpful in diagnosis. Some laboratory tests, X-rays or ultrasound of the abdominal region may be recommended by your veterinarian. Since a healthy liver is crucial to clotting of the blood, laboratory tests may include a coagulation profile to determine whether surgery is advisable or not. A biopsy of the liver is the ultimate procedure that establishes prevalence of a tumor beyond any doubt.
A malignant liver tumor is a fast-growing cancer, and it is difficult to predict its course. The treatment depends mostly on the type of tumor. Surgery is done only if it is necessary. An intravenous transfusion of fluids and blood is imperative to stabilize the animal’s body before any invasive tests or treatment can be performed. This also takes care of any dehydration that may have been caused by the tumors. Use of chemotherapy is a doubtful mode of treatment as primary malignant tumors are often immune to the chemotherapy drugs.
As with other types of cancer in cats and dogs, a liver tumor is also a serious condition that needs strict adherence to follow-up instructions after treatment. The prognosis of a benign tumor is highly encouraging if it is surgically removed. Malignant tumors, if removed, usually result in the death of the cat within a year. A proper monitoring and follow-up may extend that period by a couple of years.