Cat Cancer: My 12 year old Female with Mammary Cancer

by Ivette

My 12 year old cat, Boots, had a few cat cancer tumors removed in one side of her Mammary Glands back in August.

The Vet then came back with blood test results and said that it looks like my cat would only have 12-24 months to live as it has spread to lymph nodes.

Boots had a few lumps occur in the second side of her mammary glands and the Vet is recommending surgery to get rid of them. He performed an x-ray and says the cancer has not spread as there are no visible signs of tumors other than the mammary area.

I am so scared for my Cat and do not want to put her through surgery, but my Vet says if she got through her surgery last August, then she will be fine again.

What do you recommend and am I being selfish for wanting our beautiful cat around longer? Most especially since her brother is not doing well?

He has cancer spread through part of the intestines and lung. In his case the Doctor says there is nothing we could do. He is doing wonderfully now and did not show too many symptoms except a loss of appetite which for him is not normal. He is on meds now and we are taking it day by day.

Dear Ivette,

I am so sorry for the difficulties you're going through with your cats.

Your veterinarian's response is a bit confusing to me. On the one hand, you say that he looked at blood results and said your cat only has one to two years to live. On the other hand, he wants to go ahead with surgery to remove tumors in the other mammary chain.

It is unlikely that he would know that the mammary cancer had spread to the lymph nodes through blood work. Most often, you would need to look at a needle aspirate or a biopsy from the lymph node.

Also, it's very unlikely that he could give you an estimate of the time she has left to live based on the blood work. Is it possible that your veterinarian found something else unrelated to mammary cancer in the blood work that made him give you that prognosis?

In addition, you say that he looked at x-rays and said the cancer has not spread. But he said that it HAS spread to the lymph nodes.

I cannot tell you what to do. That is a decision only you can make. However, if a cat is suffering,then I do not believe we should ever keep the cat alive just for our own sake.

If a veterinarian tells you with confidence that your cat needs to have the other mammary chain removed ...and that her blood work shows that all her organs are functioning well ...and there's no metastasis in her chest ...and that her heart is in good shape ...and he feels very confident that she will do well with another surgery ...and that all the tests and x-rays give him reason to believe that with the surgery her survival time will be longer ...and she will be comfortable during that time, ...then having surgery is certainly reasonable.

However, I think the best advice I can give you after reading your letter, is to get a second opinion by taking your cat in person to another veterinarian and taking them all the records and x-rays and blood work and see if they agree.

I think that in your case a second opinion is very warranted. Second opinions in serious cases like this are always a good idea.

I know you certainly don't want to put your beloved cat through another surgery if she's not going to be comfortable afterwards and if her life is not going to be extended by it.

If you go to our section on Cancer in Cats, you will find other letters from readers who have been in your shoes. It may help you to read those. Also, you may get some comments and feedback from this letter that will help you.

I know it is a difficult decision to make, but I really feel that you don't have enough information right now. I strongly suggest you get that second opinion.

My very best wishes to you and your Kitty.

Kindest regards,
Dr. Neely

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