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Heart and Carotid Artery Tumors in Cats



It is suspected that chronic lack of oxygen (hypoxemia) may be associated with chemodectoma development. 




After performing a thorough physical exam on your cat and taking a complete medical history from you, your veterinarian will order a chemical blood profile, complete blood count, urinalysis, and electrolyte panel. The results of these tests will give some indication of the whether the cancer has spread in the body. If hemorrhaging is occurring, anemia may be present, and if metastasis is taking place, higher than normal liver enzymes may be present in the bloodstream.


Chest X-rays will be used to identify the location of the mass and to check for cancer spread to the lungs or spine. A heart ultrasound will also be performed, and if heart impairment is suspected, an electrocardiogram (EKG) may be used to measure the heart’s ability to conduct electrical signals. If possible, a tissue sample will be taken from the mass for biopsy. This will provide a definite diagnosis.




Unfortunately, the prognosis for cats with either of these types of tumors is grim. It is often very difficult to remove these tumors because of their placement, and they will continue to grow until functioning of the surrounding vessels or organs is impaired to the point of cardiac arrest or organ failure. Cancer treating therapies, such as radiotherapy, can sometimes be used along with surgery to slow down the spread of these cancers.


Living and Management


Your cat will need to be reevaluated by your veterinarian at least every three months for chest X-rays, as well as a physical exam to monitor for recurrence or spread of the cancer. 



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