Pancreatic Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) in Cats


PetMD Editorial

Published May 27, 2009

Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma in Cats

Neoplasm, or tumor, can be either benign or malignant in nature. Carcinomas are malignant tumors found both in humans and animals. This type of tumor tends to be particularly malignant, often recurring after surgical excision. Adenocarcinomas originate in the glandular tissue and are glandular in structure. Adenocarcinoma of the pancreas is a rare tumor in cats, and like other carcinomas it grows rapidly and metastasizes to distant parts and organs of the body. In most cats metastasis is found at the time of diagnosis, thus making treatment difficult for these patients. Similar to other neoplasms, adenocarcinoma of the pancreas usually affects older cats (more than eight years). It can occur in any breed or gender of cat.

Symptoms and Types

There are no specific tumor related symptoms. Following are some of the signs commonly seen in patients with adenocarcinoma of pancreas:

  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Jaundice
  • Poor digestion
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain


The exact cause is unknown, and is classified as idiopathic.


Your veterinarian will recommend a complete blood profile, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. A determination of the lipase (an enzyme released by the pancreas) level will assist your veterinarian in the diagnosis, as it is often elevated in a majority of patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Your veterinarian will also perform abdominal radiographs in order to determine the presence of any masses or changes in the pancreas tissue. Ultrasonography is also used to further improve diagnostic accuracy. If the above mentioned procedures fail to establish a definite diagnosis, your veterinarian may recommend a surgical biopsy of pancreatic tissue to confirm diagnosis.


There is no curative remedy available for the treatment of this rare tumor. Surgery and medications are used in those cases in which treatment is suggested. A partial or total surgical removal of the pancreas may be performed. Pain control medication may be required to prevent severe pain associated with this tumor.

Living and Management

What you may do at home with your cat to improve the quality of its life is provide extra care and affection to ease its discomfort. For ongoing treatment you may need to visit your veterinary oncologist at regular intervals. Follow your veterinarian's guidelines, especially in giving the chemotherapeutic agents at home. Many chemotherapeutic agents can be hazardous to your health if not handled properly; consult with your veterinarian on the best handling practices.

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