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Healthy Cats

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Cancer in Cats: Types, Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

WebMD veterinary expert answers commonly asked questions about cancer in cats.


Q: If my cat has cancer, does that mean she’s going to die?

A: No, but many of the cancers we see in cats are more aggressive than those we see in dogs. So early detection and treatment are very important.

Q: What are the treatments for cats with cancer?

A: We have surgery, which is the most common treatment for any kind of lump or bump that needs to be removed. Chemotherapy is used most commonly in the management of lymphomas. But it’s also used when we have aggressive tumors that have spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

We use radiation therapy in situations where we can’t remove the tumors, for example brain tumors and nasal tumors.

Q: Are we seeing advancements in the treatment of feline cancers?

A: Yes, but because historically people tended to do less for cats than they did for dogs, the advancements have been slower. But we’ve had advancements with radiation therapy, new and novel chemotherapy approaches, and new surgical approaches as well.

But we haven’t seen as many drug advances for cats as we’ve seen for dogs. A lot more of the research dollars go to dog cancers than go to cat cancers.

Q: How much does it cost to treat a cat with cancer?

A: Probably $500 to $1,000 to do the initial diagnostic testing. Then it costs anywhere from $800 to $2,000 for surgical approaches. Chemotherapy is $2,000 to $3,000, and then radiation can be $5,000 or $6,000. (Note: These are costs for treatment at a specialist. Prices at a general veterinary practice may be much less. Costs may also vary a lot depending on where you live.)

Q: If treated, what’s the cure rate for cats with cancer?

A: That’s hard to say because there are so many different types of cancers and so many variables. But I would say overall the survival rate for cats, if we’re including every type of malignancy, is probably less than 50%. But it all depends on the tumor type, when it is found, and how it is treated.

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