Liver and gallbladder cancer

Cancer of the liver, bile ducts, or gallbladder

Liver or gallbladder cancer can manifest through various symptoms in pets. Common types of these cancers include hepatocellular carcinoma, cholangiocarcinoma, and bile duct carcinoma. Signs to watch for include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite or decreased food intake
  • Lethargy or decreased activity level
  • Persistent or recurrent episodes of vomiting or diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Jaundice characterized by yellowing of the skin, gums, or whites of the eyes
  • Abdominal swelling: Enlargement of the abdomen due to tumor growth or fluid accumulation
  • Changes in behavior or personality, such as aggression, disorientation, or confusion

Cats often show subtle signs of pain or discomfort, such as:

  • Increased hiding
  • Reduced grooming
  • Changes in vocalization
  • Changes in litter box habits, including urinating or defecating outside the box

Other health conditions may share similar symptoms with liver or gallbladder cancer, including Liver Disease, Gastrointestinal Disease, or other forms of abdominal tumors.

If you notice any of these signs or if you have concerns about your pet's health, consult with your veterinarian. Early detection and intervention can improve the chances of successful management and improve your pet's quality of life.

When you visit the veterinarian for concerns related to liver or gallbladder cancer, the following may occur:

  • Physical examination: The veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of your pet, including palpating the abdomen and checking for any abnormalities or palpable masses.
  • Diagnostic testing: Diagnostic procedures such as blood tests, imaging (such as x-rays or ultrasound), fine-needle aspiration, or biopsy may be recommended to evaluate the presence and extent of the cancer and its potential spread (metastasis) to other locations.
  • Treatment options: Treatment for liver or gallbladder cancer can vary depending on the specific type, location, and stage of the cancer. More aggressive options may include surgery to remove tumors, chemotherapy, or a combination of these approaches. Palliative care, focused on managing symptoms and improving quality of life, is also an important consideration for pets with cancer.
  • Advanced diagnostic or treatment options: Referral to a veterinary oncologist or veterinary surgeon may be advised for specialized diagnostic or treatment options.
  • Follow-up care: Based on your goals, you and your veterinarian will create a follow-up plan, which may involve monitoring, additional tests, or adjustments to the treatment plan. It’s crucial to maintain open communication with your veterinary care team throughout the process about how you and your pet are doing.

The decision regarding treatment options should be made in partnership with your veterinary care team, considering your pet's and family’s individual circumstances and well-being.

Unfortunately, there are no specific measures to prevent liver or gallbladder cancer in pets. However, there are steps you can take to promote overall health and potentially reduce the risk of certain cancers:

  • Maintain a balanced diet: Specific diets may be recommended to help manage health risks, so talk to your vet about your pet's particular health needs to ensure they are getting well-balanced nutrition.
  • Weight management: Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of cancer in pets, so maintaining a healthy weight is important. Provide regular exercise and appropriate environmental enrichment for mental stimulation (e.g., toys, walks, playtime) to keep your pet physically active and mentally engaged.
  • Environmental safety: Minimize exposure to environmental toxins and hazardous substances that may contribute to the development of cancer. Keep your pet away from cigarette smoke, chemical cleaners, pesticides, and other potentially harmful substances.
  • Cancer screening or genetic testing: For pets with a higher predisposition to specific types of cancer, cancer screening or genetic testing may be available. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if testing is appropriate for your pet.
  • Early detection and intervention: Be vigilant in observing any changes in your pet's behavior, appetite, or overall health. In addition to routine veterinary checkups, seek veterinary attention promptly for evaluation and potential early intervention if you notice any concerning signs or symptoms.

Please note that the information provided here is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If you suspect your pet has liver or gallbladder cancer or any other health concerns, consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Nationwide® pet insurance claim example

Veterinary bill

$2,750

You pay only

$275

Liver and gallbladder cancer

You save

$2,475

Example reflects Accident & Illness plan with optional Congenital & Hereditary rider as well as the optional Cruciate rider added after the first year of coverage, with unlimited annual limit for each category with 90% reimbursement after the $250 annual deductible has been met. This plan may not be available in all areas. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Veterinary bill amount is based on expenses incurred in the first 30 days after initial diagnosis.

Nationwide® pet insurance claim example

Veterinary bill

$2,750

You pay only

$275

Liver and gallbladder cancer

You save

$2,475

Example reflects Accident & Illness plan with optional Congenital & Hereditary rider as well as the optional Cruciate rider added after the first year of coverage, with unlimited annual limit for each category with 90% reimbursement after the $250 annual deductible has been met. This plan may not be available in all areas. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Veterinary bill amount is based on expenses incurred in the first 30 days after initial diagnosis.

Nationwide® pet insurance claim example

Veterinary bill

$2,750

You pay only

$275

Liver and gallbladder cancer

You save

$2,475

Example reflects Accident & Illness plan with optional Congenital & Hereditary rider as well as the optional Cruciate rider added after the first year of coverage, with unlimited annual limit for each category with 90% reimbursement after the $250 annual deductible has been met. This plan may not be available in all areas. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Veterinary bill amount is based on expenses incurred in the first 30 days after initial diagnosis.