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Cat Malignant Histiocytoma

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Cat Malignant Histiocytoma

What are histiocytes?

Histiocytes are one of many types of white blood cells. They are an important part of immune systems. There are two types of histiocytes, dendritic and macrophages. The dendritic types assist lymphocytes in the identity of foreign substances or altered materials. The macrophages will remove all damaged cells, clear intracellular pathogens and foreign bodies.

Cutaneous (skin) histiocytosis is a benign condition. Most will appear and disappear quite quickly. On the other hand, malignant histeocytosis is very different. They no longer look like the white cells in the tissues. They will display many signs of malignancy. They will appear either on the skin or spleen as a single tumor. It can also appear on multiple organs that can involve the cat’s liver, bones, kidneys and spleen.

They appear as white or gray lesions. Sometimes they appear with some red spots that are based on the amount of bleeding or premature death of the cells. The lesions are not encapsulated, which means they are not confined.

Signs and Symptoms of Malignant Histiocytoma in cats

Signs such as Cat Anorexia followed by Cat Loss of Weight, Cat Lethargy and Cat Fever are the most common symptoms. Shortness of breath, some neurological signs and lameness can also occur in cats.

Treatment Options

Your initial visit to your veterinarian will include x-rays, ultrasound and a variety of blood tests.

The x-rays will allow the vet to visualize the mass in the mediastinum and also the potential for lung involvement. Enlargement or malformation of the other potentially affected organs can also be seen on x-ray. These would include a cat’s liver, lungs and even spleen.

By aspirating fluids from the affected area the vet can determine if the blood cells, both red and white, fall within normal parameters. Counts of the abnormal cells will determine the degree of the progression of the disease.

Immunohistochemistry is another form of test that will aid in the diagnosis of types of cancers. It will also assist your veterinarian in determining the prognosis. This is especially true with secondary tumors. Secondary malignant tumors are those that begin in one organ and metastasize to another. It is also instrumental in determining what is malignant and what is benign.


Various forms of chemotherapy have been used in combination. The survival times with these substances ranges from a few months to 5 or 6 years. Treatment varies from study to study and results vary from cat to cat.

Although Cat Cancer of any type is somewhat rare in cats, when it does occur it can be a devastating experience for both the cat’s owner and family as well as the cat itself. Treatment can be very painful and prolonged. Discomfort is always there and steps need to be taken to ensure that your cat is kept as comfortable as possible.

One of the most important steps in recovery is nutrition. This cannot be overemphasized. Proper diet will help restore energy levels and improve the general attitude of the cat.

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