Adenocarcinoma in Cats: cause, symptoms and treatment

Adenocarcinoma in cats is a tumor that most affects older cats. Let’s see what the causes, symptoms and treatment are.

Adenocarcinoma is a malignant tumor that is uncommon in young cats or in some particular breeds but is instead common in older cats.

It develops with a certain speed and produces metastases in different parts of the body and organs, including the brain, eyes, bones and lymph nodes.

Of course, being lungs, most of the symptoms also concern the respiratory system, but they can vary depending on the location of the metastases.

For the health of our four-legged friend it is essential to learn to recognize, with extreme speed, the signals of the disease that the animal sends us through the body.

So let’s see what the causes, symptoms and treatment of adenocarcinoma in cats.

Cause of adenocarcinoma in cats

The precise cause of adenocarcinoma in cats, or also called lung cancer, has not yet been received but among the hypotheses of this neoplasm, there is exposure to carcinogenic substances in the environment.

In fact, cats that are twice as likely to develop lung cancer are those living in families with one or more smokers.

Furthermore, the origins of the disease can vary depending on whether the cancer is primary or metastatic.


The signs that the animal’s body lets see when adenocarcinoma is present in the cat may be the following symptoms:

  • excessive meowing;
  • insomnia;
  • vomiting in cats;
  • anorexia;
  • lethargy and weakness;
  • fever;
  • labored or rapid breathing;
  • excessive cough;
  • coughing out blood;
  • sudden lameness.

If metastases then spread to the lungs, other symptoms could then occur depending on the origin of the cancer. These can be the following:

  • unexplained bleeding;
  • changes in urination and defecation;
  • slow-healing wounds;
  • skin sores.

Diagnosis and treatment of adenocarcinoma in cats

In order to make a diagnosis, the veterinarian will have to proceed with the execution of certain tests, useful for defining the correct diagnosis of the pathology.

The veterinarian will therefore perform the following analyzes:

  • cat blood test and urine to test for other diseases;
  • a chest X-ray (although, in tumors that are not large enough and therefore unclear, they are of little use);
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI);
  • ultrasound and CT scans, along with fine needle aspiration (FNA);
  • a biopsy (to confirm the presence of cancer).

Once the diagnosis has been made and adenocarcinoma in cats confirmed, the doctor will assess the stage of the disease before proceeding with treatment.

Unfortunately in many cases, it can only be purely palliative, only useful for relieving the cat’s pain, rather than treating the underlying cause.

There are two types of lung cancer that affect cats: primary lung cancers and metastatic lung cancers.

The former arise directly in the lungs, while the latter originate in different places but spread to the lungs.

In general, for primary lung tumors it is necessary to intervene surgically, removing the part of the lung where the tumor is located.

The cat will remain in the hospital until her breathing has improved and the pain has subsided enough to be managed with the tablets.

You can use an Elizabethan collar or bandage to prevent the cat from scratching. The vet will then prescribe chemotherapy or radiotherapy for the cat, which can help slow the spread of any remaining cancer cells.

The veterinarian will schedule follow-up appointments to assess the animal’s situation and prevent any recurrence.

As for the treatment of metastatic lung tumors, anticancer drugs may generally be ineffective.

This happens because lung cancer tends to have strong drug resistance and even surgery very often cannot be applied.

Which is why the vet will proceed with the treatment based on where the other tumors are in the body. Unfortunately in this case the prognosis is not good.

When the cancer reaches the lungs it is now aggressive and it is too late to save the animal.

What we can do for our animals to avoid making them sick is to quit smoking, thus preventing carcinogens from landing on the animal’s body.

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