Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that affects the B and T lymphocytes, and it can develop in the lymph nodes, bone marrow, mediastinum or gastrointestinal tract of cats, notes PetMD. Lymphocytes, which are a kind of white blood cell, help the body ward off infections and invading foreign bodies.
Feline lymphoma is linked to exposure to certain viruses, including the feline leukemia virus. Although cats can develop lymphoma at any age, the disease seems to occur more commonly in felines between the ages of 10 and 12 years, as noted by Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
The symptoms of lymphoma in cats depend on the organ or body region involved. For example, lymphoma that develops in the digestive tract may show as bloody or loose stool, vomiting and appetite loss, while the lymph nodes may become inflamed when affected.
Treatment options for feline lymphoma are dependent on the cancer grade and stage and include chemotherapy, radiation and surgical excision of any masses or growths. When a feline has high grade lymphoma, treatment may include chemotherapy and the administration of drugs to destroy cancerous cells.
Factors which can affect an afflicted feline's survival rate are the specific cancer location and its stage. The average survival rate for cats with high grade lymphoma is between 6 and 9 months, as stated by the Intown Veterinary Group.