Lymphoma stands out as one of the most prevalent cancers in cats. The disease develops from a lymphocyte, a white blood cell that is key to the proper functioning of the cat's immune system.
A disease of the lymphatic system, lymphoma can occur anywhere in the body and typically develops in one of three forms. Multicentric lymphoma centers in lymph nodes throughout the body and may display symptoms of swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
Mediastinal lymphoma occurs in the chest between the pleural sacs of the lungs and typically prompts appetite suppression and weight loss. Because mediastinal lymphoma affects the respiratory system, however, cough and mouth breathing may occur as well.
Multicentric and mediastinal lymphoma have decreased in recent years, largely because both forms are linked to the feline leukemia virus. Vaccines and the quarantining of infected cats have led to a reduction in such infections and a lower incidence of related lymphoma.
Today, the most common form of feline lymphoma is alimentary, which occurs in the gastrointestinal system. This cancer leads to a variety of digestive issues, including vomiting, diarrhea, and bloody stool. Like the disease's other forms, alimentary lymphoma typically is not curable, though chemotherapy may help control symptoms and improve the cat's quality of life.