Overview of Feline Uterine Tumors
Uterine tumors are cancers that arise from the uterus. They are rare in cats and are most commonly benign, but may also be malignant. Uterine tumors, by definition, only occur in intact female cats. They are usually seen in middle aged to older cats.
What to Watch For
Diagnosis of Uterine Tumors in Cats
Treatment of Uterine Tumors in Cats
Ovariohysterectomy or spay is the treatment of choice. Chemotherapy may be recommended in selected cases.
Home Care and Prevention
Monitor for recurrence of original clinical signs and spay your female pets.
In-depth Information on Uterine Tumors in Cats
Many cats with uterine tumors have no clinical signs of illness. This is because most tumors are benign and therefore do not spread to other organs. The most common tumor types are leiomyomas (fibroids) and fibromas. Malignant tumors are often adenocarcinomas or leiomyosarcomas. Large tumors may cause compression of other abdominal organs and may result in constipation, vomiting, or frequent urination. Abdominal distension is sometimes noted due to large tumor size or development of fluid in the abdomen secondary to the tumor.
In many cases, the tumor may be present concurrently with an infection in the uterus, called pyometra. Cats with pyometra are commonly lethargic, excessively thirsty, anorexic, vomiting and often have vaginal discharge. Licking of the vulva is common in animals with vaginal discharge, which may prevent observation of the discharge itself. Other conditions may cause similar clinical signs to those seen in animals with uterine tumors. These include:
A complete history and physical exam are crucial. A thorough history is always important in establishing a list of possible diagnoses. A physical exam may reveal an enlarged uterus, or vaginal discharge that had gone unnoticed previously. Additional tests may include:
Surgery is the treatment of choice for animals with uterine tumors. It is not clear how hormones may influence growth of uterine tumors, so it is advisable to remove not only the uterus, but the ovaries as well. Surgery therefore serves not only as a diagnostic modality, but as a therapeutic one as well.
Follow-up Care for Cats with Uterine Tumors
Optimal treatment for your cat requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your pet does not improve over the expected time frame.
If your cat has a benign uterine tumor, the prognosis is excellent following surgery. Routine follow-up two weeks after surgery is recommended for a recheck exam and suture removal.
If a malignant tumor is diagnosed, your cat should be seen regularly by your veterinarian. This generally entails a follow-up visit at two weeks, six weeks, and then every three months. Follow-up x-rays of the chest and an abdominal ultrasound exam should be performed every few months to monitor for evidence of metastasis of the primary tumor to other organs.
Cats receiving chemotherapy drugs are often seen every one to three weeks.
If your cat is having any problems at home, this should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian. Signs to watch for include lack of appetite, vomiting, continued vaginal discharge, apparent pain, weight loss, or any other abnormal behavior.