Cancer of the Small Intestine in Cats

Treatment of intestinal cancer depends on location and type of cancer.
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Lymphoma, the prevalent form of cancer in cats, is a highly malignant cancer in the lymphatic system. Intestinal lymphoma in the small intestine is the most common form of the disease. Lymphoma tends to occur mostly in older cats and male cats.

Types of Intestinal Cancer

Several types of intestinal lymphoma exist, including adenocarcinoma, a malignant tumor in the gastrointestinal system, and lymphosarcoma, the most common type of intestinal cancer in cats. Lymphosarcoma is associated with the feline leukemia virus. Although a vaccine for feline leukemia exists, cats are still exposed to the virus, which increases their chances for developing lymphoma.

Symptoms of Intestinal Cancer

Loss of appetite and weight loss are the classic signs of intestinal cancer. In about 50 percent of cases cats will experience vomiting and in about 30 percent of cases they'll have diarrhea. Cats with cancer may also vomit blood, have feces with bright red or black blood, or may have difficulty defecating.

Diagnosing Intestinal Cancer

If you suspect your cat might have cancer, see the vet. He'll perform a thorough exam based on her symptoms and health history, normally followed by blood and stool tests and a biochemistry profile. Radiography may reveal the presence of a mass, and sometimes ultrasound reveals intestinal lymphoma. If necessary, the vet may perform an endoscopy for tissue sampling. If there's still no confirmation of cancer, the vet may recommend surgery to get a biopsy for a definitive diagnosis. Tissue samples are high-grade, low-grade or intermediate-grade, referring to how rapidly the cells appear to be dividing and how malignant they appear to be. High-grade is considered the most malignant. The grade of cancer can impact its response to treatment.


Several treatment options exist for a cat diagnosed with stomach cancer. Much depends on what kind of cancer the cat has as well as how advanced it is. Your vet may recommend surgery If your cat has adenocarcinoma. In most cases this isn't a cure because the cancer has spread to other organs. Vets often advise painkillers to help minimize pain with this type of cancer. Your vet may advise chemotherapy if your cat has lymphosarcoma, which can be helpful in extending her life.

Intestinal cancer is a serious illness. The options available for managing the disease depend on a wide range of factors, including the type of cancer, where it's located, whether it's an isolated tumor or it has metastasized, and what its grade is. If your cat is diagnosed with intestinal cancer, be sure to communicate with your vet, keeping the cat's comfort and quality of life in mind.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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