Lymphoma Histology in a Cat


Among felines, there are a number of common cancers. The most frequently encountered variety is lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system that mounts an immune response to possible infections. Specifically, lymphoma is caused by mutations in either the B- or T-cell lymphocytes, which cause them to grow and multiply out of control. Lymphoma histology in a cat can identify the precise type of lymphoma.

Cats can contract one of five varieties of lymphoma:

  • Multicentric

    The most common sub-type of lymphoma, multicentric lymphoma is cancer that involves the lymph nodes and more that one of the internal organs. An example of this type is feline leukemia.

  • Thymic

    This also occurs as a result of feline leukemia, but rather than spreading to multiple organs, it occurs only in the thoracic (chest) cavity.

  • Mesenteric

    This is a cancer of the stomach, small intestine, and related gastrointestinal systems. Older cats, typically of 10 years of more, are more susceptible to this form of cancer.

  • Alimentary

    Another type that affects the intestines, alimentary lymphoma is a slower-progressing, low-grade version, and also appears mostly in older cats.

  • Cutaneous

    As with the previous two types, cutaneous lymphoma affects older cats, and is a disease of the skin, or cutaneous layer.

Underlying Causes

There is little clear understanding of why some cats are more vulnerable to the various lymphomas. Genetic factors, as well as diet or infections, can reasonably be implicated in many cases. Environmental factors, such as exposure to certain carcinogenic compounds may also play a role. Likely, it is a combination of these that leads to a given cat developing cancer.

Diversity of Symptoms

Because lymphoma can manifest in a number of different ways, and in a number of different locations, there are few universal signs that definitively point to lymphoma. If a cat is lethargic, irritable, has trouble eating or lacks appetite, or it he has recurring bouts of diarrhea or vomiting, it may be a sign of lymphoma. A veterinarian will be able to conduct tests to know for sure.


Because feline lymphoma can progress rapidly, it is important to get veterinary intervention as quickly as possible. An untreated cat may have only four to six weeks left to live, while a treated cat can enjoy many more months of life. Because the lymphoma histology in a cat can vary and present itself differently in each case, you should consult a vet promptly if you notice any of the above symptoms.

LymphomaInfo Social