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Leukemia (Chronic) in Cats

Chronic Lymphocytic Cancer in Cats

 

Animals with abnormal and malignant lymphocytes in the blood are said to have a rare form of cancer called chronic lymphocytic leukemia. An integral component to the immune system, lymphocytes can affect many body systems when damaged.

 

Although rare, this form of leukemia affects both dogs and cats.

 

Symptoms

 

The symptoms for chronic lymphocytic leukemia are usually non-specific and may include:

 

  • Increased thirst (polydipsia) and consumption of water
  • Increased urination (polyuria)
  • Enlargement of lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Lameness
  • Bruises

 

Causes

 

The following are suspected but unproven risk factors for chronic lymphocytic leukemia:

 

  • Exposure to ionizing radiation
  • Cancer-causing viruses
  • Chemical agents

 

Diagnosis

 

You will need to give a thorough history of your cat’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination, as well as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC). Blood testing may reveal anemia, abnormally low number of platelets (cells involved in blood clotting), and abnormal increase in number of lymphocytes in blood film observed under microscope. Your pet’s veterinarian will also conduct a bone marrow biopsy, which will provide a more detailed picture into the abnormalities in lymphocyte production.

 

 

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