Hepatocellular Carcinoma In Cats
Hepatocellular carcinoma describes a rare but malignant tumor of the epithelial tissues of the liver . This type of tumor is rare in cats cats are more commonly affected by bile duct carcinoma. There are no breed predispositions, but affected cats are on average older than ten years of age.
The following symptoms are typically absent until the disease reaches an advanced stage:
- Hepatomegaly precedes development of overt clinical signs
- Abdominal hemorrhage
- May be associated with chronic inflammation or hepatotoxicity
What To Watch For
Malignant tumors carry a much graver prognosis as these are aggressive disease processes and often have evidence of widespread involvement by the time of diagnosis. Just as other tumors can metastasize to the liver, primary liver tumors can metastasize to other organs. The symptoms are often vague and non-specific.
Infectious Diseases Of The Liver
Several types of infections may cause liver disease, including viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic disease.
The most common fungal infections associated with liver dysfunction are coccidioidomycosis Coccidioidomycosis Funguses are parasitic, spore-producing organisms. They obtain their nourishment by absorbing food from the hosts on which they grow. Many species of fungus exist in the… read more and histoplasmosis Histoplasmosis Funguses are parasitic, spore-producing organisms. They obtain their nourishment by absorbing food from the hosts on which they grow. Many species of fungus exist in the… read more . If the liver is involved, signs may include abdominal swelling, jaundice, and liver enlargement. Coccidioidomycosis can be treated with longterm use of antifungal medications. However, relapses sometimes occur. Histoplasmosis is often treated using prescription antifungal medications. Depending on the level of illness, the outlook for recovery may be poor. Lifelong antifungal treatment is necessary for some cats with these diseases.
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Causes Of Liver Tumor In Cats
There is no known cause of liver tumors. Researchers believe that age could be a risk factor. The older a cat is, the more cell divisions that its body has gone through, increasing the risk of a mutation. Other possible risk factors include genetics, consumption or inhalation of chemicals or toxins, chronic inflammation, and hepatotoxicity.
Is There A Cure For Feline Liver Disease
The success of treatment for liver disease is dependent on the underlying cause of disease. In most cases, a portosystemic shunt can be surgically repaired, which can be curative. Liver disease can often be managed in cats, and if caught in the early stages, most cats will recover without permanent damage to their liver.
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What Is Hepatocellular Carcinoma
The most common form of hepatocellular carcinoma is the development of one large mass on one lobe of the liver. Tumors can also develop in a nodular manner on multiple lobes of the organ. In rare cases, tumors will form all through the liver tissue, an occurrence referred to as diffuse growth. The left lobe of the liver is most commonly affected and is also the easiest to treat. This type of cancer is found slightly more often in male cats, and in cats over the age of nine. While the liver generally detoxifies substances in the body, it seems that certain chemicals may actually become more toxic after interacting with the liver, and cancer then forms. Hypoglycemia is a health issue that often occurs secondary to hepatocellular carcinoma.
Most cancers that develop in a cat’s liver have spread from other organs and ended up in the liver due to its filtration of the bloodstream. This is not the case with hepatocellular carcinoma. This cancer actually stems directly from the liver cells, called hepatocytes. It is a fairly common type of cancer in cats that creates tumors in and on the liver. Generally, hepatocellular carcinoma has a low likelihood of metastasizing to other body parts. If it does spread, it often will appear in the lungs or the spleen.
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What Is Liver And Spleen Cancer
Liver and spleen cancers can affect cats and other companion animals. They are more common in dogs than cats but can occur in roughly one percent of cats. It is most common in older, male cats. These tumors can be life-threatening and will require medical treatment.
Liver and spleen cancers occur in the liver, spleen, bile duct, or related tissues. Liver and spleen tumors may be benign or they can metastasize, or spread. Tumors that spread are considered cancerous and can affect other organs. Liver and spleen cancer can occur as tumors within these organs or in blood vessels, as both organs have a high concentration of these.
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Treatment Options For Liver Cancer In Cats
In many cases, surgical removal of sections of the liver is the best option for liver cancer in cats. Hepatocellular carcinomas do not respond to chemotherapy, so surgery is required for this type of tumor. Providing the tumor can be completely removed, a cat will usually go on to live a full life. Up to 50 percent of a cat’s liver can safely be removed and the liver will grow back.
Chemotherapy is an option for other tumors. Chemotherapy does kill some tumors, but there are side effects. Cats that have undergone chemo treatments usually have gastrointestinal and bone marrow issues. Gastrointestinal problems include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. If the bone marrow is affected, white cell counts drop increasing a cat’s risk of developing an infection or disease.
What Is The Outlook For Cats With Liver Disease
If the liver disease is diagnosed and treated early, cats tend to make a full recovery. But untreated liver disease can lead to more serious conditions like biliary cirrhosis â in which the bile duct is replaced by connective tissue. Acute liver failure can also occur. More than two-thirds of the liver must be severely damaged for liver failure to occur, and any intervention before this point can help prevent it.
Other complications of untreated liver disease include hepatic encephalopathy and fibrosis. Early treatment of potential liver disease in cats can lead to a healthier, longer life for your pet.
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Life Expectancy Of A Cat With Liver Failure
Liver failure in cats is a tricky diagnosis that has a varied prognosis based on each situation. The survival rate of each liver condition will often vary based on how quickly the condition was detected, as well as how severe the damage to the liver is. However, if your vet has diagnosed your cat with end stage liver failure, its safe to say that your cat may have limited time.
In cases of liver failure that have resulted in clotting disorders, fluid in the abdomen, and other serious side effects many cat owners have to make a sudden decision on the quality of their life. However, if your cat has been diagnosed with liver failure and is still free of any major symptoms, you could have anywhere from 6-8 months with your feline friend.
When it comes to the question of how long your cat will live with their liver failure, its best to have an in depth conversation with your vet on their specific prognosis. Since there are so many causes of liver damage in cats, your veterinarian will have the most informed answer for you. It is impossible to give you an answer online or through an article like this since so many factors play a part in being able to come up with an answer. After your vet has done their tests, they will be able to offer you a more detailed answer.
Characteristics Of Hepatocellular Carcinoma In Cats
Little has been written over the years describing feline hepatocellular carcinoma . The estimated prevalence ranges from 1 to 3% of all feline cancers primary hepatic tumors are uncommon in the cat. Compared to dogs, cats have a lower risk for HCA and that fact also goes along for metastatic liver cancer in cats. While there is an association between viral infections and HCA in humans , no evidence has been shown for a viral association in cats.
Because so little has been characterized about feline HCA, the authors performed this retrospective study of 19 cats describing the signalment, clinical features, clinicopathologic parameters, imaging characteristics, hepatic mass size and lobe distribution, concurrent disorders and survival times. Cats developing hepatobiliary tumors often have the big three nonspecific clinical signs of illness: anorexia, lethargy, and weakness. There may be an association with increased hepatic transaminase activities, yet cats will more likely demonstrate hyperbilirubinemia because biliary carcinomas commonly cause cholestatic jaundice.
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Diagnosing Liver Disease In Cats
Diagnosing the specific problem causing liver disease involves the collection of a thorough history by your vet, such as diet change, current medications, changes in the environment or household, appetite, and any other medical history or previous diagnosis with other medical problems.
Your vet will draw blood to assess your cats liver and other organs and how they are functioning. Other diagnostic tests that help with the diagnosis include x-rays, abdominal ultrasound, and urinalysis.
The most specific and accurate diagnosis method for liver disease is to get a biopsy or a small piece of tissue from the liver. Sedation or anesthesia is required to safely obtain a biopsy. Knowing the specific cause of liver disease in your cat is very important because it helps your vet determine the best treatment.
Your vet may discuss referral to another vet that specializes in internal medicine. A veterinary internal medicine specialist usually has access to 24-hour intensive care veterinary facilities that are better equipped to care for and treat patients needing intensive care.
Complications Of Liver Disease
Hepatic encephalopathy is a neurologic syndrome caused by liver dysfunction and is seen in a number of liver diseases. Signs suggestive of hepatic encephalopathy include dullness, circling, head pressing, aimless wandering, weakness, poor coordination, blindness, excessive drooling, behavior changes , dementia, collapse, seizures, and coma. Treatment of hepatic encephalopathy includes supportive care and rapid reduction of the poisons being produced by the digestive tract. Severely affected cats can be comatose or semicomatose and should not be fed until their status improves. Treatment is likely to include intravenous fluids to correct dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Enemas may be used to cleanse the intestines of ammonia and other poisons and to introduce nutrients that help decrease poison production. Medications to affect the bacterial populations in the gut may also be used to reduce the absorption of toxic products. Once the cat has been stabilized, treatment helps prevent recurrence. A protein-modified restricted diet may be prescribed. The signs of hepatic encephalopathy can be worsened by intestinal bleeding, infections, certain drugs , cancer, low blood sugar, fever, kidney disease, dehydration, and constipation. Your veterinarian may prescribe additional treatments to address these concerns.
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How Is Liver Disease Diagnosed
A physical examination and bloodwork help the vet understand the cats ill health is down to their liver. Whats trickier is to identify why the cat has liver disease.
The tools your vet is most likely to use include ultrasound, and biopsy.
- Ultrasound: Gives a grayscale picture of the liver and helps the vet identify unexpected solid or fluid-filled areas, and abnormal blood vessels.
- Biopsy: This involves harvesting a sample of cells or a piece of tissue, which is then sent away for analysis. Its usually a biopsy which enables the vet to label the condition with a specific diagnosis.
But additional tests may be required such as specialized blood tests, x-rays, or an MRI scan.
So what sort of causes is the vet investigating? Lets take a look.
How Does This Cancer Typically Progress
Benign liver tumors, such as bile duct adenomas, do not spread. They generally do not cause signs of illness unless they grow to the point that they physically affect other organs or structures , or rupture and bleed. Liver tumors overall are fragile and may rupture at any time as they grow, potentially causing life-threatening internal bleeding.
“Liver tumors overall are fragile and may rupture at any time as they grow, potentially causing life-threatening internal bleeding.”
Malignant liver tumors, such as HCCs, tend to metastasize to other areas of the body, most commonly to the nearby lymph nodes, the lungs, and the peritoneum . HCCs of the massive form are locally invasive, meaning they invade the surrounding liver tissue and can become quite large. Becoming large, they can compress the main bile duct , the internal organs, or the large blood vessels in the abdomen, causing a variety of symptoms. Though they tend to metastasize , they have a lower rate of metastasis, as compared with the nodular or diffuse forms. Without surgical removal, dogs with HCCs are15 times more likely to die of tumor-related complications.
Bile duct carcinomas, neuroendocrine tumors, and the various sarcomas also tend to spread, often quickly and by the time they are diagnosed. Bile duct carcinomas can cause bile duct obstruction as they grow, causing severe damage to the liver and gall bladder, and at times risking gall bladder rupture.
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Symptoms Of Liver Cancer
While some cats with liver cancer show no symptoms at all, others exhibit symptoms of illness. Because not all cats show symptoms of disease, the cancer is often detected during the workup of another condition.
Cats with liver cancer can demonstrate a wide variety of clinical signs of disease. Some cats are completely asymptomatic and their liver cancer is detected as an incidental finding during the workup of another condition.
For example, an apparently healthy cat may present for a routine dental cleaning and the veterinarian may notice severe liver enzyme elevations on pre-anesthetic bloodwork.
These liver enzyme elevations may suggest the presence of liver disease and further investigation may lead to a diagnosis of liver cancer, even in a cat with no signs of illness.
Some cats with liver cancer demonstrate obvious clinical signs of liver dysfunction, which can range from mild to severe.
Signs of liver disease in cats include decreased appetite, weight loss, and vomiting. Affected cats may also have increased thirst and urination. In severe cases, cats may develop yellowing of the skin, eyes, and gums .
Neurologic signs, such as stumbling, disorientation, and seizures, may also be observed. If a liver tumor ruptures and bleeds within the abdomen, the cat may become acutely weak or collapse, with pale gums due to blood loss.
What Is A Liver Tumor
A liver tumor is an abnormal proliferation and dysregulated replication of cells within the liver. The liver is a large organ in the abdomen. It cleanses the blood and aids in digestion by secreting bile. The liver is not only made up of liver cells , but also other kinds of cells, including bile duct cells, neuroendocrine cells, and connective tissue cells. As such, there are four types of primary tumors of the liver: hepatocellular tumors, bile duct tumors, neuroendocrine tumors, and sarcomas.
Liver tumors may be either benign or malignant . Benign tumors include hepatocellular adenomas, hepatomas, bile duct adenomas, hemangiomas, and leiomyomas. Malignant tumors include hepatocellular carcinomas , bile duct carcinomas, neuroendocrine tumors, and various sarcomas, including hemangiosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, and leiomyosarcoma, among others. Malignant tumors tend to metastasize . Most liver tumors in dogs are malignant, while in cats, most are benign.
“Malignant tumors can present in three different ways.”
Malignant tumors can present in three different ways. The tumor can be massive, which means the cancer is a single large tumor it can be nodular, which means there are several masses spread throughout the liver or it can be diffuse, which means it involves the entire liver evenly.
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Cat Liver Failure And When To Euthanize
Liver disease is a challenging diagnosis in our feline friends. Not only can liver disease have a drastic impact on your cats life, but it will often progress to complete liver failure. Once this happens, many cat owners are left with the question of when its time to let go.
In this article we will discuss the details of liver failure in cats, and help you understand when it may be time to euthanize your beloved companion.
Treatment Of Liver Disease In Cats
Like any illness, having an accurate diagnosis for the specific liver disease helps determine the best treatment options. In addition, there are supportive treatments that help cats to recover, including nutritional support. Always talk to your vet before changing your cats diet if she has liver disease.
Treatment varies depending on your cats symptoms. Cats with mild signs of liver disease often dont need to be hospitalized. They may go home with medications to help with nausea, vomiting and to encourage eating.
Cats with signs of dehydration, weight loss, and not eating often need to be hospitalized. Treatment in the hospital is geared toward keeping your cat hydrated, providing nutrition, appropriate medications, and close monitoring. Cats with severe liver disease are at risk for developing problems with other organs, such as the kidneys, and must be monitored closely by medical staff.
What Is Liver Failure In Cats
Acute liver failure, also known as hepatic failure, occurs when the liver of a cat suddenly loses 75 percent or more of its function. A response to severe death of tissue, acute liver failure differs from chronic liver failure in that it is not caused by a hepatic disease or related condition, both of which cause a much slower loss of function.
The liver is an essential organ, leading the charge for over 10,000 life-sustaining tasks. Therefore, failure of the liver can also impact other organ systems, putting the cat at severe risk.