Carcinoid Cancer In Cats: What Do You Need To Know About It?


Carcinoid tumors that may lead to carcinoid cancer in cats are rare. The slow growing tumors, which are formed by the endocrine cells in the mucosal lining of the organs like the intestine and stomach. These particular tumors are small neuroendocrine tumors, commonly of the gastrointestinal tract, which may secrete serotonin. Serotonin is a naturally occurring neurochemical, which is commonly related with memory and sleep functions. Give this article a read and get to learn more about this feline condition.

Carcinoid Cancer in Cats: What is this feline condition?

The carcinoid tumors are a kind of neuroendocrine tumor. This particular type of cancer is rare in cats and is most frequently found in the older cats, which are more than 7 years old.

Moreover, carcinoid tumors secrete the histamine and amines serotonins in the bloodstream, as well as several peptides. Peptides, as we know, is chemical compounds like tachykinins and bradykinins. These are responsible for the tissue contraction.

The carcinoid cancer in cats develops because of malignant overgrowth of cell on the enterochromaffin cells. These cells are present in the mucosal linings of the pancreatic ducts –the stomach, intestines, biliary tract, and the respiratory tract. Moreover, the carcinoid tumors are small in size, slow-growing, and are being marked by their particular location, as well as their ability to secrete various peptides and amines. These certain amines comprise serotonin –a neurotransmitter, which is responsible for the memory and sleep. On the other hand, histamine is a neurotransmitter, which has a role in the immunity of the cat’s body.

Causes of Carcinoid Cancer

The precise cause of the carcinoid cancer in cats is not clearly known. The older a cat is, the more divisions it has on its enterochromaffin. Further, the larger the number of divisions may increase the possibility of a mutation happening on the cells. This may cause the tumor to develop. No certain breeds or prior conditions have been found to increase the risk of carcinoid cancer in cats.

Symptoms of Carcinoid Cancer

Due to the fact that carcinoid tumors yield peptides and amines instead of hormones, the symptoms of carcinoid cancer occur in the affected organs because of the compression of the tumor on the organ.

Here are some of the symptoms of carcinoid cancer in cats:

  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Pain in the legs because of blood clot
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to pass stool
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

Prognosis in Carcinoid Cancer

There are various ways in diagnosing carcinoid cancer in cats. The certain way, which vets may choose will depend on the organs, which is displaying the symptoms. Further, it is important to note all the symptoms the cat experiences, since the symptom may help the vet in determining the organ that is affected.

Moreover, the vet may order various laboratories that include a urinalysis, biochemical blood profile, and CBC. These said tests may help the vet in determining the affected organ, as well as show some evidence of carcinoid tumor, just like mild anemia, electrolyte abnormalities. Since carcinoid cancer may metastasize to some other organs, like liver and kidneys, these exams might also show some abnormalities in these said organs.

X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scan, as well as MRI might also be done. These tests may be essential for the vet in seeing any tumors, which are growing in the body of the cat. The existence of a tumor in the biliary, respiratory or digestive tract may need the vet to do a biopsy to make a conclusive diagnosis of the carcinoid tumor. Throughout the biopsy, the vet may take a small sample of the tumor. This sample will be sent to a lab for testing. If any of the tests are not conclusive, the vet might order a specialized testing to diagnose the carcinoid cancer. These tests may look for substances, which are commonly excreted by the carcinoid tumors.

Treatment for Carcinoid Cancer


In case the tumor has metastasized to the surrounding organs and is incurable, painkillers may be prescribed for the cat to make it comfortable all throughout the remainder of its life. If the cat is not able to pass its stool because of tumor growth, killing the cells might be prescribed to help the cat in defecating.


Radiation therapy or radiotherapy might be essential in reducing the size of the tumor. Throughout this procedure, high-energy particles or waves may be directed toward the tumor, thus killing the cells, as well as slowing its growth. This particular treatment actually carries a high risk of harming the organs or the cells of the organ and is just used when the tumor might not be removed surgically.


Surgical procedure or surgery is the least known way of stopping the tumor from growing, treating the condition. The cat might be placed under general anesthesia. The tumor may be removed from the lining of the organ and the organ may be closed using sutures.


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