Brain Tumor (Astrocytoma) in Cats

PetMD Editorial
May 18, 2010
2 min read
Image: Photo Grapher / via Image Bank

Astrocytoma in Cats

Although rare in cats, astrocytomas can be dangerous, even deadly. These tumors affect the brain's glial cells, which surround nerve cells (neurons), giving them support and electrically insulating them. Astrocytomas can also be rarely found in the spinal cord, and there was one reported case of an astrocytoma located in the retina.

Symptoms and Types

The astrocytoma's biologic behavior depends on the tumor's location and degree of lack of cell differentiation (graded I–IV, from best to worst prognosis). The following are some common symptoms associated with this type of brain tumor:

  • Seizures
  • Behavioral changes
  • Disorientation
  • Loss of conscious proprioception (i.e., clumsy misplacement of feet, tripping, etc.)
  • Cranial nerve abnormalities
  • Paralysis

Causes

The underlying cause for the development of astrocytomas is currently unknown.

Diagnosis

You will need to give a thorough history of your cat’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to the veterinarian. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination as well as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, complete blood count, and electrolyte panel to rule out other diseases.

An analysis of cerebrospinal fluid may indicate increased protein levels without an increase in cell count, which is indicative of astrocytoma development. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are also highly instrumental in diagnosing astrocytomas, as is radionuclide imaging, which may show an area of increased activity at the tumor site.

Treatment

Surgery and chemotherapy are both common courses of treatment when dealing with this time of brain tumor. Radiation therapy, too, can be effective; consult a veterinary oncologist if this is beneficial in the case of your cat.

Living and Management

Your veterinarian will schedule regular follow-up appointments for your pet, where it will undergo CT (computed tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans, so as to monitor the cat's response to treatment. Likewise, blood work (especially a complete blood count) should be evaluated during each appointment. If the cat was prescribed seizure medication, your veterinarian may want to evaluate it earlier (7 to 10 days after prescribing the medication) to regulate the dosage accordingly.

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PetMD Editorial