do cats 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.

What Is Lung Cancer in Cats?

A cat’s diagnosis of cancer is worrisome, and lung cancer is particularly dangerous. But understanding your pet’s condition can help.

Tumors, or masses of cancerous cells, that form in the lungs of cats are known as lung cancer. Clinically speaking, lung cancer is known as pulmonary neoplasia, which refers to uncontrolled abnormal cell growth affecting the lungs.

Lung cancer can be primary or secondary. Primary lung tumors start in the lungs. Metastatic lung tumors are secondary lung tumors that originate in another part of the body and spread to the lungs.

Damage from lung tumors impairs the lungs’ capacity to exchange carbon dioxide with oxygen in the blood. Additionally, tumors may compress the lungs or cause fluid to build up around the lungs, making breathing harder for your cat.

Primary lung cancer in cats is rare. Of 5,643 cat cancer cases presented to the North Carolina State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital for evaluation, only 39 (0.69%) were primary lung tumors (pulmonary carcinomas).

Nonetheless, compared to 20 years ago, primary lung cancer is now diagnosed more frequently. This might be because cats live longer lives, detection techniques have improved, and exposure to environmental carcinogens (tobacco smoke, radon, and other pollutants) has increased.

However, secondary lung tumors are more common than primary lung tumors because the lungs are a common organ for cancer to spread from other parts of the body.

Although survival rates are influenced by various factors such as tumor type, severity, and the time of initial diagnosis, primary lung tumors are thought to have a better prognosis. The prognosis for secondary lung tumors is usually poor because the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Types of Lung Cancer in Cats

A study that investigated the different types of primary lung tumors in cats found three main types of cancer:

  • A malignant tumor called pulmonary adenocarcinoma typically arises from the glands lining the bronchi, which are the airways in the lungs. 82% of primary lung tumors in cats were pulmonary adenocarcinomas.
  • %20Bronchogenic%20carcinomas%E2%80%94An additional 2011% of primary lung tumors were caused by tumors originating from other tissues within the bronchi.
  • %20Squamous cell carcinoma%E2%80%94The remaining 7% of tumors consisted of two types of squamous cell carcinomas, which develop from the outermost layer of the epithelial tissue (the squamous epithelium) that lines the airways.

Cats can develop secondary lung tumors in a variety of ways. Any type of cancer, regardless of where it starts in the body, has the potential to spread to the lungs.

Treatment of Lung Cancer in Cats

If cancer is diagnosed, your cat’s vet may refer you to a veterinary oncologist who can help you decide the best treatment plan moving forward. Your options will depend on the size, location, and stage of your cat’s cancer and your cat’s overall health.

For solitary, slowly growing tumors, surgery to remove the affected lung segment or the lung itself may be advised. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be used to treat tumors that are incurable.

Radiation can help slow the growth of primary tumors. It is more likely that chemotherapy will be suggested if the cancer has spread.

Palliative care, or symptom relief, is the best course of action if treatment is not possible.

Palliative care may include:

  • Pain medication
  • Fluid therapy
  • Nutritional support
  • Cough suppressants
  • Anti-inflammatory medications (including corticosteroids such as prednisolone and dexamethasone)
  • Antibiotics (to fight secondary infections)
  • Thoracocentesis (to help remove fluid build-up around the lungs)


Can cats survive lung disease?

A chronic lung disease may often be identified during the course of a routine veterinary examination, says Dr. Goldstein. In some cases, therapy for a chronic condition can be initiated and, if maintained indefinitely, can extend a cat’s life for several years.

At what age do cats get cancer?

What age do cats typically get cancer? Generally, cancers affect older cats more commonly than younger cats. Cancer in cats is more common in those over age 10, but it can affect younger cats. Cat cancers tend to grow slowly over time, often without symptoms or vague symptoms in the beginning stages.

When should I euthanize my cat with lung cancer?

The decision to euthanize a cat with lung cancer is typically based on factors such as the severity of symptoms, the cat’s lifestyle quality, and the effectiveness of available treatments. As the lung tumors spread and grow, cats often experience labored breathing, coughing, loss of appetite, lethargy, and distress.