Has your cat had these symptoms? Cancer? Leukeran?

This forum is for cat lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your cat.


Member Since
Purred: Wed Jul 11, '12 8:09pm PST 
So, as you may guess by the title, I have seeking feedback on a few different things as we are currently trying to get a correct diagnosis on our cat.

Our cat, Dana, was diagnosed with kidney issues. The vet has since decided that perhaps Dana's real problem is cancer (since the kidney cre and bun levels were not all that high). The vet is also thinking, though, that the bloodwork numbers that indicate cancer are not that high either.

Our cat's symptoms are weight loss (5 lbs in 2 years). She is quite thin right now and has muscle loss and weak hind legs. She doesn't eat too much unless we do "room service" - then she eats it all up really fast. ("Room Service" is when we bring it to her and she sits up and gobbles it.) She was also getting lethargic, sleeping in different places than usual, anti-social.

Vet has gone with a diagnosis of slow growing "gut disease" (lymphoma) and has prescribed 2 mg of Leukeran 2x a week and 1 1/2 pred daily. She is now really, really lethargic and stares off. Sometimes she gets bursts of energy. She will still eat a good amount - sometimes on her own - sometimes via "room service". We cut her back to 1 pred daily - but she is still out of it.

We're not liking the side effects of the drugs - especially when we're not really sure it is cancer. Has anyone had a similar situation where the numbers aren't really high enough to indicate cancer or kidney disease - yet their cat is having these symptoms?

Also, has anyone else used Leukeran and then had it be successful - with your cat now in remission? Was your cat lethargic the whole time? Our vet indicated that she would be on the drugs the rest of her life and that there are NO side affects. We can't be the first to see this in our cat....

Any thoughts or feedback would be most appreciated.


let no food bowl- be empty
Purred: Mon Jul 16, '12 1:49am PST 

I think you should seek a second opinion ASAP. If you are able to, I would get a referral to an internal medicine specialist now. It sounds like your cat is very ill.

There is no blood test for cancer in cats that I know of. (I work for a veterinary specialty hospital) The only way to diagnose intestinal lymphoma is with biopsies of the intestines. This can be done by endoscopy or surgery. Sometimes you won't get a result but most of the time you do. It can also tell you if it "looks" like it could be IBD, if all else is ruled out. Symptoms with both those diseases can be similar or varied. There is not a list of symptoms that could make a good guess as to what the disease is. Biopsies are needed to know.

Cancer of the kidneys is a completely different disease. So is kidney disease, or failure. The blood test that shows the kidney values (the normal test run in most veterinary blood panels) is not elevated until there is a 75% loss of kidney function. Meaning, there has to be so much kidney damage at the time the blood is taken that there is only half of a kidney working.
Therefore having only slightly elevated kidney values is a problem. Any elevation of the values is significant and needs to be investigated further with additional tests, ie bloodwork, urinalysis, abdominal ultrasound. It should never be disregarded.

There are many different types of cancer that can affect the kidneys. The only way to know if it is cancer is to do a kidney biopsy, which can be done by ultrasound guided needle biopsy, with an experienced internist. The treatment for cancer of the kidneys would be completely different depending on the type of cancer found. I have never seen leukeran used for renal cancer.

There are many things that could be wrong with your cat and I think that you need to get into a specialist to find out what to do now. Leukeran is a chemotherapy drug. You need to wear gloves to handle it. It can have many side effects, just as any drug can. No drug is safe, but chemo drugs are really not safe. They have their place of course, with patients that have had cancer diagnosed.

The prednisone is a steroid. It acts to reduce inflammation. It also lowers the immune system and in the case of an infection such as a kidney infection it would not be helping at all. You do not want to ever abruptly stop taking prednisone. It is a drug that must be tapered off.

I hope you are able to get your kitty in with a specialist soon as it sounds like the kitty is very very ill.

Please keep us updated.