Surgical Treatment of Lung Cancer in Cats

By Tess Thompson

Lung cancer in cats may either be primary or secondary. Primary lung cancer originates in the lung tissue while secondary lung cancer is caused by metastasis from other cancerous sites. Like other cancers, the early signs of lung cancer are not easily detectible, and its prevalence is evident only after a chest X-ray has been done. As the cancer develops, some of the clinical signs that emerge are phlegm or blood on coughing, weight loss and anorexia.

A typical primary lung cancer is a single mass but can appear as multiple tumors in its advanced stages. A secondary lung cancer that has spread from another part of the body would almost always appear as multiple masses in different lung lobes.

A confirmed diagnosis is of utmost necessity because some types of fungal infections can also appear as masses in the lungs. If fungal infection is suspected, a microscopic analysis of samples can be taken from the site of the infection. Confirmation of lung cancer is possible only after microscopic examination of a sample obtained through biopsy.

Primary lung tumors can be removed with surgery. If the left lung is infected, a complete removal is also an option since the right lung can take over its functions by overworking. If the right lung is affected, total removal may cause problems for your cat because all lobes will be removed as well. The tumor is usually removed by incising the side of the chest but in cases where both the lungs need to be viewed by the surgeon, he may divide the breast bone.

The following laboratory and histological tests are done to prepare the patient for surgery:

  1. Chemistry profile
  2. Complete blood cell count
  3. Urine analysis
  4. Chest X-rays for side and lateral views of both the lungs

While it is normal that there will be delay in resumption of normal bowel movement after return from the hospital, cats usually develop some post-operative complications. You need to attend to these on priority basis.

Acid reflux from the stomach while your cat is under anesthesia can cause heart burns and be a major discomfort. Feeding bland food for some time will take care of it, but if it persists you need to check out with your veterinarian.

Loss of appetite
Most cats will refuse food for some time after surgery. Try feeding your cat with smelly foods that contain fish or other odorous cat foods. You may also try hand feeding, stroking and petting frequently to stimulate appetite.

This should not be mistaken with regurgitation as in both conditions the cat will be pouring our fluids from the mouth. Stomach upsets after anesthesia has been administered are normal and should be ignored for the first 24 hours.

Cats are different from dogs and show signs of pain differently. Discerning cat owners should look for signs like biting when they approach the operated area, refusal to eat or hiding from the owner.

Whether it is a case of feline cancer or cancer in dogs, all types of cancers reveal their prevalence only in later stages. Even when they do, like the symptoms of liver cancer in dogs, the symptoms mostly mimic other conditions, which result in a delayed treatment. If you love your pet, it will be a good policy to educate yourself about cancer symptoms and consult a veterinarian whenever you are in doubt.


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