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What You Should Know About Stomach & Intestinal Cancer in Cats

What You Should Know About Stomach & Intestinal Cancer in Cats

The aggressive, painful cancer leiomyosarcoma affects muscles in a cat’s stomach and intestines. Our veterinary oncology team in Matthews describes signs of stomach and intestinal cancer in cats, as well as diagnosis and treatment options. 

What is leiomyosarcoma?

This relatively rare but painful cancer can impact the muscles in the stomach and intestines in cats.

Typically, the disease only appears in cats over six years of age, but may be diagnosed in cats of any breed. Leiomyosarcoma is an aggressive stomach and intestinal cancer with a high tendency to metastasize (spread) to other parts of the digestive tract, or to other vital organs.

What causes stomach and intestinal cancer in cats?

To establish what causes leiomyosarcoma in cats, more research needs to be conducted. Currently, we’re not sure of the cause of this stomach and intestinal cancer.

What are symptoms of stomach and intestinal cancer in cats?

It can be somewhat difficult to diagnose stomach cancer in cats, as our four-legged friends will often not display any obvious signs of the disease until it’s advanced to its later stages. When it has advanced, symptoms start to appear gradually - over weeks or months.


Signs of stomach and intestinal cancer in cats can also often mimic symptoms of other less serious gastrointestinal conditions.

If your cat has leiomyosarcoma, you may see one or more of these symptoms:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Gasc
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Stomach growling
  • Blood in stool
  • Black stool
  • Chronic intermittent vomiting
  • Diarrhea

How is leiomyosarcoma diagnosed?

If your cat is displaying symptoms of leiomyosarcoma or other gastrointestinal issues, your vet will feel your cat’s stomach and intestines to find out if he or she is exhibiting any signs of growths, enlarged lymph nodes, or pain. If the veterinarian suspects stomach cancer, diagnostic testing will be recommended.

Tests that may help to diagnose stomach cancer in cats include:

  • Urinalysis
  • Endoscopy
  • Ultrasound guided biopsy
  • X-rays
  • MRI or CT scans
  • Blood tests

What pain management options are there for cats diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma? With many forms of cancer (and some cancer treatments), your pet may unfortunately experience pain.

Pain caused by cancer may significantly reduce your cat’s quality of life, which is why your vet may take a proactive approach to managing pain if your cat is diagnosed with stomach cancer.

Rather than wait for signs of pain to appear, your vet may be able to prescribe medications to help prevent it before it starts, helping your cat to live a more comfortable life.

How is stomach cancer in cats treated?

Your vet may be able to perform surgery to remove the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue. However, keep in mind that the effectiveness of surgical treatment will depend on whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

After your cat is initially diagnosed with stomach or intestinal cancer, further diagnostic testing may be required to help your vet establish the extent of your cat’s condition, along with best treatment options.

If your cat has been diagnosed with stomach or intestinal cancer, our veterinary oncology team at Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Matthews can offer cutting-edge advanced diagnostics, surgery, and more. Our veterinary oncologists are committed to caring for and treating pets with cancer.

They work closely with our board-certified radiation oncologists, in addition to other specialists to help determine the best possible treatment outcomes for your cat’s specific circumstances.

We are also experienced in offering support for pet parents and families. We thoroughly review your pet’s medical history and diagnosis, then sit with you to explain the disease, staging and any additional diagnostics required, treatment options, side effects and prognosis.

Treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, immunotherapies, chemotherapy or other targeted therapies or palliative care where appropriate.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat displaying signs of stomach cancer or other gastrointestinal issues? Our veterinary oncology team is trained to provide advanced care for cats and dogs with cancer. Contact Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Matthews to book an appointment.

Caring for Pets in Matthews

Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Matthews accepts new clients to our specialty services by referral only. Our emergency service accepts all clients.

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