Cancer, neoplasia, neoplasm and tumor are interchangeable terms that refer to a condition of unrestricted cell growth caused by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division. Cancer may spread from the place of its origin to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system or the blood stream.
Cat liver cancer can be the result of:
- A primary liver tumor of the liver cells.
- Lymphoma in cats or cancer of the lymphoid tissue or blood cells connected with the liver.
- Secondary liver cancer, which has spread from other organs and affected the liver.
Just like dog liver cancer, primary liver cancer in cats is rare, and most of the time, the liver is affected due to a cancerous growth having metastasized (spread) from distant or neighboring organs. Primary liver cancer can also be benign or malignant.
Benign tumors are harmless and do not cause any illness. They pose a threat only if they are large enough in size to put physical pressure on other abdominal organs or bleed after rupturing. Sometimes very large but benign liver tumors may cause blood sugar levels to drop.
Many chemicals and medicines are not toxic in their original state, but are metabolized by the liver into carcinogenic substances. These carcinogens can cause cancerous growths within the liver, leading to primary liver cancer. As these are actually meant to be passed out through urine or feces, they may also cause cancer on their way out. Urethral cancer in dogs and cats is one of the common examples of cancer caused in this manner.
The liver, however, is the favorite destination of cancers that originate in other parts of the body. This fact is hardly surprising, since the liver is one of the biggest organs in the body and is involved in most of the body’s internal activities. Cat cancer that spreads is malignant in nature, and the very fact that it has spread up to the liver means that it has approached its terminal stage, where treatment is extremely difficult.
If your cat has a benign tumor in the liver, it may be surgically excised and has a good prognosis. Even if a bigger part of the liver is affected and has to be removed, the huge regenerative capacity of hepatic cells ensures a good quality of life after surgery. Cats with primary liver cancer have an average survival time of only one year even after surgery.