Question: I have a 2-year-old cat that has been diagnosed with lymphosarcoma of the eye. I do not understand how a cat that is this young could have cancer. Also, is it common for a cat to have cancer in the eye? The entire situation seems so unusual and I am heartbroken about the diagnosis.
Answer: First, I am sorry to hear that your young cat has been diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, we do see cancer in young patients and it is always difficult because it is unexpected. Also, cancer in our younger patients can progress very quickly without warning, so the diagnosis is often difficult to understand.
Lymphosarcoma is the most common type of cancer that we see in feline patients. The most common location for lymphosarcoma to occur in feline patients is the gastrointestinal tract. Lymphosarcoma that occurs in the GI tract in cats usually occurs in middle aged to older feline patients. More atypical sites like the eye, kidney or central nervous system are usually seen in younger patients.
The first step for you to take is to have your cat evaluated more fully by your veterinarian. I recommend that a Feline Leukemia test and Feline Aids test be performed. If these tests are positive, the long term prognosis for your young cat is much more guarded than if these tests are negative. Feline Leukemia and Feline Aids are viruses that affect the immune system, making it more difficult for your cat to respond to cancer treatment.
Also, we will want to perform tests like radiographs and an ultrasound exam to see if the cancer is localized to the eye or has spread. Blood tests are also performed to assess the overall health status of your cat and evaluate for anemia or an elevated white blood cell count.
Once testing for feline viruses, radiographs, and full blood testing is done, a final treatment plan and prognosis can be determined for your cat. I know that this is a difficult process and I wish you and your cat well.