ISSN 2398-2950      



Synonym(s): Malignant lymphoma, Lymphosarcoma, LSA


  • Cats have a higher incidence of lymphoma than dogs (20-30% of all tumors in cats).
  • Lymphoid neoplasia accounts for an incidence of 200 per 100,000 cats at risk and is 90% of all feline hemopoietic neoplasms.
  • Lymphoma can originate in any organ or tissue containing lymphocytes:
  • Cause: some forms associated with FeLV infection (only 25% of cases in a recent report which represents a decrease over previous years).
  • Signs: depend on form, eg malaise, weight loss, respiratory distress, vomiting, diarrhea.
  • Diagnosis: cytology, histopathology.
  • Treatment: cytotoxic drugs, surgery if alimentary and obstructed; radiation therapy for nasal, rapid reduction of large problematic masses such as mediastinal form and consolidation therapy following chemotherapy, surgery for ocular.
  • Prognosis: Poor if no treatment.
    Print off the owner factsheet Feline lymphoma Feline lymphoma to give to your client.




  • FeLV Feline leukemia virus disease for some forms (not alimentary)
    • Mediastinal 80% FeLV positive.
    • Alimentary <30% FeLV positive.
    • Multicentric 80% FeLV positive.
    • CNS 80% FeLV positive.
    • Cutaneous <10% FeLV positive.
    • Renal 50% FeLV positive.
    • Often occurs in households of FeLV infected cats.


  • Relative incidence of different forms varies with geographical region (and therefore depends on study):
    • Alimentary: 30-50% Scotland (but 15% in New York).
    • Mediastinal: 25-38% England (but 18% Scotland).
    • Multicentric: 20-44%.
    • Renal Kidney: neoplasia.
    • Spinal: rare (but most common spinal neoplasm in cat).
  • Malignant proliferation of lymphoid cells arising in any area containing lymphoid tissue   →   focal or diffuse masses in intestine, skin, thymus or lymph nodes   →   progresses to extranodal sites, eg liver, spleen, bone marrow.
  • Stage 1Neoplasia: TNM staging:
    • Single tumor.
  • Stage 2:
    • Single tumor and regional lymph node involvement.
    • Two single tumors on same side of diaphragm.
    • Resectable gastrointestinal lesion.
  • Stage 3:
    • Two single tumors on opposite sides of diaphragm.
    • Inoperable intra-abdominal mass.
    • Spinal neoplasia.
  • Stage 4:
    • Stage 1-3 plus liver/spleen involvement.
  • Stage 5:
    • Stage 2-4 plus CNS or bone marrow involvement (leukemic).


  • Rapidly fatal (6-8 weeks) without treatment in most cases.
  • Months (nasal, cutaneous forms).


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Williams L E, Pruitt A F, Thrall D E (2010) Chemotherapy followed by abdominal cavity irradiation for feline lymphoblastic lymphoma. Vet Radiol Ultrasound 51 (6), 681-687 PubMed.
  • Louwerens M, London C A, Pedersen N C et al (2005) Feline lymphoma in the post-feline leukemia virus era. J Vet Intern Med 19 (3), 329-335 PubMed
  • Brown M R, Rogers K S, Mansell K J et al (2003) Primary intratracheal lymphosarcoma in four cats. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 39 (5), 468-472 PubMed.
  • Teske E, van Straten G, van Noort R et al (2002) Chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and prednisolone (COP) in cats with malignant lymphoma: new results with an old protocol. JVIM 16 (2), 179-186 PubMed
  • Kristal O, Lana S E, Ogilvie G K et al (2000) Single agent chemotherapy with doxorubicin for feline lymphoma - a retrospective study of 19 cases (1994-1997). JVIM 15 (2), 125-130 PubMed.
  • Parnell N K, Powell L L, Hohenhaus A E et al (1999) Hypoadrenocorticism as the primary manifestation of lymphoma in two cats. JAVMA 214 (8), 1208-1211, 1200 PubMed.
  • Gabor L J, Malik R, Canfield P J (1998) Clinical and anatomical features of lymphosarcoma in 118 cats. Aust Vet J 76 (11), 725-732 PubMed.
  • Court E A, Watson A D & Peaston A E (1997) Retrospective study of 60 cases of feline lymphosarcoma. Aust Vet J 75 (6), 424-427 PubMed.
  • Meleo K A (1997) The role of radiotherapy in the treatment of lymphoma and thymoma. Vet Clinics NA SAP 27 (1), 115-129 PubMed.
  • Moore A S, Cotter S M, Frimberger A E et al (1996) A comparison of doxorubicin and COP for maintenance of remisssion in cats with lymphoma. JVIM 10 (6), 372-375 PubMed.
  • Mahony D M, Moore A S, Cotter S M et al (1995) Alimentary lymphoma in cats 28 cases (1988-1993). JAVMA 207 (12), 1593-1598 PubMed.
  • Mooney S C, Hayes A A, McEwan E G et al (1989) Treatment and prognostic factors in lymphoma in cats 103 cases (1977-1981). JAVMA 194 (5), 696-702 PubMed.
  • Mooney S C, Hayes A A, Matus R E et al (1987) Renal lymphoma in cats 28 cases (1977-1984). JAVMA 191 (11), 1473-1477 PubMed.

Further Information 

Related Images


Abdominal organomegaly

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Airway abscessation

Alimentary tract: neoplasia

Allergic bronchitis

Anemia: immune-mediated hemolytic


Bladder: neoplasia

Blood biochemistry: alanine aminotransferase (SGPT, ALT)

Blood biochemistry: alkaline phosphatase

Blood biochemistry: creatinine

Blood biochemistry: urea

Bone marrow aspiration

Brush border membrane disease




Cor pulmonale

Cranial nerve neuropathy



Cytology: lymph node aspirate

Degenerative myelopathy

Diabetes mellitus

Diarrhea: dietary

Diarrhea: parasites


Eosinophilic granuloma

Eosinophilic granuloma complex

Eosinophilic plaque

Esophagus: disease

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency

Eye: intraocular mass

Feline autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (FALPS)

Feline eosinophilic gastrointestinal sclerosing fibroplasia

Feline gamma herpesvirus

Feline immunodeficiency virus

Feline infectious peritonitis

Feline leukemia virus

Feline leukemia virus disease

Feline progressive histiocytosis (FPH)

Fine-needle aspirate

Flow cytometry (immunophenotyping)



Haw's syndrome

Heart: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Hematology: complete blood count (CBC)

Hematology: platelet count


Horner syndrome

Hydronephrosis / hydroureter

Hypercalcemia: overview


Hypoproteinemia: investigation

Indolent ulcer

Inflammatory bowel disease: overview

Intestine: foreign body - linear

Intestine: obstruction

Kidney: chronic kidney disease

Kidney: neoplasia

Large intestine: neoplasia

Larynx disease

Larynx: neoplasia



Liver: cholangitis / cholangiohepatitis

Liver: chronic disease

Liver: primary hepatic neoplasia


Lung: pulmonary neoplasia


Lymphocytic / plasmacytic enteritis

Lymphoma: chemotherapy protocols

Lymphoproliferative disease


Malignant histiocytosis


Mediastinal diseases

Mediastinal lymphoma






Mouth: neoplasia

Mouth: squamous cell carcinoma

Multiple myeloma

Myeloid leukemia

Nasal cavity: neoplasia

Neoplasia: TNM staging

PCR (Polymerase chain reaction)

Pericardial disease

Pericardium: neoplasia - heartbase tumor



Pleural effusion


Protein-losing enteropathy

Radiology: liver

Radiology: lungs

Radiology: skull

Radiology: spine

Radiology: upper urinary tract



Renal function assessment

Retrobulbar space-occupying lesion


Salivary gland: neoplasia

Salivary mucocele



Shoulder: brachial plexus neoplasia



Skin: fat responsive dermatosis

Skin: lymphocytic neoplasia

Skin: neoplasia

Skin: panniculitis

Skin: pemphigus foliaceus

Small intestine: neoplasia


Spinal lymphoma

Spinal neoplasia

Spine: arachnoid cyst

Spleen: neoplasia

Spongiform encephalopathy

Stomach: chronic gastritis

Surgical oncology: overview

Therapeutics: antimicrobial drug

Therapeutics: anti-neoplastic agent


Thymus: neoplasia


Trachea: collapse

Trachea: neoplasia

Ultrasonography: kidney

Ultrasonography: liver

Ultrasonography: spleen

Vestibular disease



Vitamin D poisoning (cholecalciferol)


Weight loss

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