Webvet

Webvet

Social Media Icons

Follow Us:

Main Content

Liver Cancer in Dogs and Cats

Twitter Stumbleupon Mixx it! Print Email icon
Pin It
If you enjoy this article,
Go here to sign up for the mailing list to receive more articles like this.
1920090608213144doginrain

Liver cancer is most common in older dogs and cats.  Tumors can originate in the liver, which is called primary liver cancer, or can reach the liver from other areas through metastasis, the process by which cancer cells from the primary tumor site move to other parts of the body -- such as the liver -- via the blood or lymph fluid.  Liver cancer may involve one or multiple lobes of the liver.

Signs of liver cancer can be very general and often include loss of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, and/or vomiting.  More specific signs include jaundice, or swelling and fluid buildup in the abdomen.  Dogs and cats may also experience seizures (or other signs of brain inflammation) as toxins accumulate in the blood and affect the brain, a condition known as hepatic encephalopathy.

Diagnosis of liver cancer usually involves a combination of physical findings, x-rays or ultrasound, and blood tests.  Blood tests often reveal high levels of liver enzymes and/or bile acids.  To confirm the diagnosis, your veterinarian may want to take a biopsy, which involves inserting a needle through the abdomen into the liver, in order to remove cells or sections of tissue for microscopic evaluation.

An isolated tumor involving only a single liver lobe can be removed surgically, with follow-up chemotherapy recommended for certain types of cancers (eg, lymphoma).  However, tumors involving multiple liver lobes, or those that have already metastasized to/from other organs, are difficult to treat and carry a poor prognosis.  Your vet may prescribe palliative therapy, such as corticosteroids or a specialized diet, to temporarily help your pet feel better and reduce the amount of work the liver normally does in the body.


Q&A

What are the signs of liver cancer?

Signs of liver cancer are variable and can include jaundice, swollen abdomen, lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, or even seizures.

How is liver cancer diagnosed?

Diagnosis usually involves a combination of physical findings, x-rays or ultrasound, and blood tests.  A biopsy may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

How is liver cancer treated?

A primary liver tumor involving one liver lobe can sometimes be surgically removed.  Metastatic cancers, or those involving multiple liver lobes, are difficult to treat and carry a poor prognosis.

Credit: Written and reviewed by John A. Bukowski, DVM, MPH, PhDand Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS 
Did you like this article?
Go here to sign up for the mailing list to receive more articles like this.

Related content

All medical-related content on WebVet has been veterinarian approved to ensure its timeliness and accuracy.
Introducing Pet-Pods...

Veterinarian with small dog FREE downloadable PDF files providing a comprehensive review of some of the most timely pet health topics: Allergies, Fleas, Summer Safety Hazards, and Vomiting and Diarrhea.

Newsletter Signup

  
Get FREE Pet Insurance Quotes Now!

Search For A Vet

Crosby