Pericardial mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that affects the pericardium, the thin membrane that surrounds the heart in cats. It is caused by exposure to asbestos or other carcinogenic substances. Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma in cats can be difficult to recognize and are often mistaken for other conditions. It is important to note that cats with pericardial mesothelioma may not show any symptoms until the later stages of the disease.
The most common symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma in cats include:
Difficulty breathing: One of the most noticeable symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma in cats is difficulty breathing. This can be caused by the accumulation of fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion) or by the tumor itself pressing against the heart and lungs.
Coughing: Cats with pericardial mesothelioma may also develop a persistent cough. This is often a result of the tumor pressing against the airways or the accumulation of fluid in the lungs.
Decreased appetite and weight loss: Cats with pericardial mesothelioma may also experience a loss of appetite and weight loss. This is often due to the cancer causing an overall feeling of malaise and discomfort.
Lethargy: Cats with pericardial mesothelioma may become lethargic and less active than usual. This is often a result of the cancer causing an overall feeling of malaise and discomfort.
Weakness: Cats with pericardial mesothelioma may become weak and have difficulty standing or moving around. This is often a result of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body and causing weakness and fatigue.
Swollen abdomen: Cats with pericardial mesothelioma may also develop a swollen abdomen. This is often a result of the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites) caused by the cancer spreading to the liver or other organs.
Heart murmur: Cats with pericardial mesothelioma may develop a heart murmur. This is often a result of the tumor pressing against the heart and interfering with its normal function.
Diagnosis of pericardial mesothelioma in cats is often challenging and requires a combination of imaging tests, blood tests, and biopsies. Chest X-rays and ultrasounds can help identify the presence of fluid around the heart and the size and location of any tumors. Blood tests can help determine if there are any abnormalities in liver function or other organs. Biopsies of the pericardium or other affected tissues may also be necessary to confirm a diagnosis of pericardial mesothelioma.
Treatment options for pericardial mesothelioma in cats are limited and often involve palliative care to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. This may include medications to reduce inflammation and swelling, diuretics to help remove excess fluid from the body, and pain management to alleviate discomfort. Surgery may be an option in some cases to remove the tumor, but this is often difficult due to the location of the tumor and the risk of damaging the heart.
In conclusion, pericardial mesothelioma in cats is a rare and challenging cancer to diagnose and treat. If you suspect your cat may be showing symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately. Your veterinarian can perform a thorough examination and recommend appropriate diagnostic tests and treatment options to help manage your cat’s condition and improve their quality of life.