Lung Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) in Cats

Lung Adenocarcinoma in Cats

Adenocarcinoma is a malignant neoplasm, making up about 75 percent of all primary lung tumors in cats. Adenocarcinoma grows rapidly and metastasizes to distant parts of the body and organs, including the brain, eyes, bones, and lymph nodes. Like other malignant tumors, adenocarcinoma of the lungs is usually seen in older animals (more than ten years). This type of carcinoma is relatively rare in cats, with no known breed disposition.

Symptoms and Types

Most symptoms are related to the respiratory system, but in cases of metastasis the symptoms vary depending upon the location of the metastasis in the body. Following are some of the symptoms seen in patients with lung adenocarcinoma:

  • Pain
  • Dyspnea (difficult breathing)
  • Tachypnea (rapid breathing)
  • Low energy level and lethargy
  • Poor appetite
  • Gradual weight loss
  • Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
  • Lameness in cases of metastasis to bones
  • Muscle wasting
  • Fever in some patients
  • Ascites (an accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity of the abdomen)


  • Idiopathic – exact cause is still unknown
  • Suspected risk factors include living in an urban environment and passive cigarette smoking, but not proven


You will need to give a thorough history of your cat’s health, including a background history of symptoms. After taking a detailed history and performing a thorough physical examination, your veterinarian will order various laboratory tests, including a complete blood profile, a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and X-ray studies.

Thoracic (chest) radiographs are the most important tool in diagnosing this condition in pets. An ultrasonography, computed tomography (CT) scan, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be used in some patients to confirm diagnosis. The CT scan and MRI may also help in determining the possibility of metastasis of the tumor into other parts of the body.


The prediction of a disease’s outcome in advance


Something that becomes worse or life threatening as it spreads


The condition of being drowsy, listless, or weak


An animal’s attitude or temperament


The result of a malignant growth of the tissue of the epithelial gland.

lymph nodes

Small structures that filter out the lymph and store lymphocytes

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