can a cat get lung cancer

Although cats are less prone to developing primary lung cancer than dogs, the reported incidence has increased during the last 20 years. This may be due to an increased average life span, better detection and awareness, or, possibly, increasing exposure to cancer-causing agents in the environment.

Types of Feline Lung Cancer

A tumor inside the lungs is formed when cells proliferate abnormally and grow larger, a condition known as lung cancer. A cat may have one of the following four forms of lung cancer:

  • Bronchogenic adenocarcinoma/carcinoma: The most prevalent kind of primary lung tumors that originate from the bronchus is pulmonary adenocarcinoma, also known as bronchogenic adenocarcinoma. These tumors are malignant and have the potential to spread to other lung lobes and the lymph nodes in the chest cavity.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: The squamous epithelium within the lung cavity is the source of a squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the lung. Although uncommon in cats, this type of primary tumor has the potential to spread.
  • Histiocytic sarcoma: Histiocytic cells are the source of this kind of soft tissue tumor. If it is localized or disseminated, it can be determined by clinical findings and cell behavior.
  • Granulomas: Benign clusters of cells that are small and frequently show no symptoms

Unfortunately, there is no single cause of cancer in cats because the disease is complex and can result from a combination of hereditary and environmental risk factors. Any breed of cat can develop lung cancer, but Persian cats are thought to have a higher diagnosis rate.

Age plays a role, as well. The majority of primary lung tumors are discovered later in life, usually at the age of 12. Sex does not appear to have an impact on a cat’s risk of lung cancer. Lung tumor development has also been connected to environmental exposure to carcinogens, such as cigarette smoke.

Clinical Signs of Lung Cancer

Among the potential signs of lung cancer in cats are the following:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting or regurgitation
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Pain in the legs

Because the cancer may have spread, cats with lung cancer in its later stages may also show symptoms that don’t seem to be related to their lungs. For example, he or she might be malaise all over, swollen limbs, or lame. A syndrome specific to cats can also occur. When a primary pulmonary carcinoma spreads to the digits (toes), it can result in lung-digit syndrome, which can cause pain, swelling, and lameness.

The veterinarian may carry out the following diagnostic procedures if lung cancer is suspected:

  • Urinalysis and blood work: Get a complete blood count (CBC) and a chemical blood profile.
  • Ultrasound of the abdomen: This is done to see if there is a main tumor there that might be the source of a lung lesion. This should make it easier for the veterinarian to diagnose a cat’s lung tumor as a result of a metastatic illness from another part of the body or as primary lung cancer.
  • Three-view chest radiographs: Checks for the presence of a tumor
  • CT scan: Determines whether the cancer has progressed to the mediastinum in the chest, the thoracic lymph nodes, or other lung lobes. It also aids in determining whether the mass can be surgically removed.
  • Aspiration or biopsy guided by ultrasound: Identifies the type of cancer and whether the mass is malignant


If the lung tumor is a single mass, your veterinarian might suggest surgically removing the diseased lung lobe where it is located. Cats, fortunately, have five lung lobes and can recover even if one is removed. The average prognosis before a primary pulmonary bronchogenic adenocarcinoma recurs or spreads is 1-1 when surgery is performed alone. 5 years. Surgery is not advised if the cancer has spread to the other lung lobes or the thoracic lymph nodes.

Radiation Treatment

A more recent and sophisticated type of radiation therapy called stereotactic radiation therapy (SRS/SRT) is used to slow the growth of primary lung tumors in cats. With this nonsurgical option, the tumor receives precise doses of radiation, causing less damage to surrounding healthy tissue. There are very few side effects. If any do occur, they are usually mild and may include lung tissue inflammation and a sunburn-like effect on the skin. When a lung tumor cannot be surgically removed or when the family chooses not to have surgery but still wants to pursue a final option, SRS/SRT is a good option. SRS/SRT can put the disease in remission and frequently causes these tumors to shrink rather than grow.


Chemotherapy may be used to try to slow the cancer’s progression if it has spread or if it has an aggressive nature. For severe diseases, chemotherapy may be used in conjunction with radiation therapy or surgery.

When it comes to lung cancer in cats, life expectancy can vary depending on a number of factors. One major factor influencing how long a pet may have left is metastasis. For example, a cat may survive for more than a year following successful surgical removal of a tumor. On the other hand, if the illness has progressed to the thoracic lymph nodes, the cat will probably reach the end of his or her life in a few months.

Tumor growth will continue if treatment is not received, which will lower quality of life. Your veterinarian can discuss the survival outlook with you, and if you’re still unsure, you can always get a second opinion.

Treatment Options For Lung Cancer in Cats

The options for treating lung cancer in cats can differ based on a number of variables, such as the tumor’s location, the cat’s general health, and the cancer’s stage. Here are some commonly considered treatment methods:

VetMed is an expert in HDR (High Dose Rate) Brachytherapy, a cutting-edge therapeutic approach that is a highly focused and minimally invasive type of radiation therapy. This technique involves inserting a tiny radioactive source into or close to the tumor, which allows for the direct delivery of a high radiation dose to the cancerous cells while protecting the surrounding healthy tissues. Because HDR brachytherapy is more precise, has fewer side effects, and promotes faster recovery than other treatments like surgery or conventional radiation therapy, it is frequently chosen.

Opening the chest cavity is part of this procedure to remove the cancerous lung tissue. Although there are risks involved with anesthesia and the actual surgery, it can be beneficial but requires a lengthy recovery period.

When surgical removal is not possible or as a post-operative treatment to eradicate any residual cancerous cells, chemotherapy may be advised. Although chemotherapy can prolong a cat’s life, it has a number of side effects, including generalized fatigue, nausea, and vomiting.

In traditional radiation therapy, the tumor is exposed to multiple sessions of high-energy radiation beams. While it may help treat lung cancer, it may also have an impact on some of the surrounding healthy tissues.

Palliative care, which aims to improve quality of life and relieve symptoms, may be the most humane course of action in certain cases, especially for older cats or those with advanced stages of cancer. This could include pain management and medications to improve breathing.

It is best to discuss treatment options with a licensed veterinary oncologist before selecting one. At VetMed, we provide a variety of options to best meet your cat friend’s needs, always striving to provide the least invasive yet most effective care.


How long will a cat live with lung cancer?

For instance, if a tumor can be surgically removed successfully, a cat may live more than one year afterward. Conversely, if the disease has spread to the thoracic lymph nodes, it’s likely the cat will enter the final stage of his or her life in a couple months.

How do cats act when they have cancer?

Lumps and bumps, abnormal odors, abnormal discharges, non-healing wounds, weight loss, change in appetite, coughing or difficulty breathing, lethargy and decreased energy, changes in bathroom habits, and evidence of pain can all be warning signs of cancer in pets.

What is the most common cancer in cats?

Lymphoma is by and large the most common cancer that affects cats, although there are other types of feline cancers that can affect domestic cats. Lymphoma typically happens in older felines and most commonly occurs in the small intestines, says Dr.

How long will a cat live with adenocarcinoma?

The majority of cats who have survived an adenocarcinoma live well over a year and only a select few have reported recurrences. There is no known way to prevent a cat contracting adenocarcinoma or to keep the disease from recurring in your feline.