Pancreatic Exocrine Neoplasia (Pancreatic Cancer) in Cats

Overview of Feline Pancreatic Neoplasia

Exocrine tumors of the pancreas are tumors that arise from the glandular tissue of the pancreas that produces digestive secretions. Most of these tumors are malignant (adenocarcinomas). Benign exocrine pancreatic tumors are extremely rare. Tumors of the pancreas is referred to as “pancreatic cancer”.

There is no known underlying cause. They occur more commonly in older animals. They are slightly more common in cats than dogs.

Exocrine tumors of the pancreas are aggressive tumors that invade nearby tissues and spread to distant organs. The clinical signs of exocrine pancreatic cancer cannot be differentiated from the clinical signs of benign pancreatic disease. The outlook for this disease is extremely poor with most cats surviving for less than three months following diagnosis.

What to Watch For

An acute or chronic history of:

Diagnosis of Pancreatic Exocrine Neoplasia in Cats

Treatment of Pancreatic Exocrine Neoplasia in Cats

Home Care and Prevention

On rare occasions when there is no obvious evidence of spread to other organs, an exocrine pancreatic tumor can be removed, and your pet may recover from the surgery.

Hospitalization in an intensive care unit is usually required for several days following the procedure. Intravenous fluids are supported by food given intravenously or via a feeding tube to the small intestine, placed at the time of surgery.

Feeding tubes must stay in place for at least 5 to 7 days following surgery so feeding and tube management may continue for some time once your pet comes home. Offering food and water by mouth may be delayed for several days following surgery. Postoperative antibiotic treatment is not routine for animals with pancreatic tumors.

There is no known underlying cause for pancreatic exocrine neoplasia and therefore no way to preempt the disease. Taking a middle aged or older pet with a history of vomiting, weight loss and perhaps abdominal pain, to your veterinarian at the earliest opportunity is best action you can take. Having said this, exocrine pancreatic tumors are a bad disease, and the prognosis is generally extremely poor.

In-depth Information on Pancreatic Exocrine Neoplasia in Cats

The clinical signs for exocrine pancreatic neoplasia are the same as for many other diseases, some of which carry a much more favorable prognosis.

Diagnosis In-depth

Treatment In-depth

Follow-up Care for Cats with Pancreatic Exocrine Neoplasia

Antibiotics may be used in some cases of pancreatic surgery depending on the findings at the time of the procedure. These medications may continue when your pet comes home. You will need to offer your pet small meals and water. Do not be tempted to offer too much food, too many treats or the opportunity to gorge on fluids.

If a feeding tube has been used, feeding may still be supplemented by use of a liquid diet that is syringed directly into the intestinal tract. Your veterinarian will go over the dietary protocol for the tube and care of the stoma, the opening where the tube exits the skin on the side of the abdomen. A feeding tube will stay in for at least five days following surgery, whether your pet is eating or not. If your pet is eating by mouth problems, the feeding tube may be pulled after this time. This procedure would be performed by your veterinarian.

Check the surgical incision for swelling redness or discharge. The stitches or staples will need to be removed in 10 to 14 days.

There is no preventative action for exocrine tumors of the pancreas in cats and dogs. Fortunately these tumors are rare and therefore it is important to bear in mind that the likelihood of such a tumor being the reason for your pet’s abdominal discomfort or vomiting is usually slim.

Benign tumors of the pancreas can occur but they are usually asymptomatic and an incidental finding at the time of an exploratory surgery, more often than not for reasons other than suspected pancreatic disease.

The prognosis for malignant pancreatic exocrine tumors is extremely poor.