Veterinary Clinical Investigations Center


Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital
3800 Spruce Street, 181E Old Vet Courtyard
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6008
Phone: 215.573.0302

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Weight Loss in Cats with Cancer

Clinical and Molecular Markers of Cancer Cachexia in Cats

Cancer cachexia is a syndrome that is described in human medicine. Patients with this syndrome lose body weight and muscle mass, have a decreased appetite, and feel unwell overall. These patients also have a poor response to cancer treatments and a decreased survival compared to patients that do not have this syndrome. Cancer cachexia is associated with increased blood levels of inflammatory proteins. Some cats with cancer may experience a similar syndrome. The purpose of this study is to document and compare the body weight, body condition, and blood levels of inflammatory proteins in normal weight cats with cancer, underweight (cachectic) cats with cancer, and normal weight healthy cats.
We will obtain a blood sample for a general health screening and inflammatory markers. Body condition and muscle mass scoring will be performed as part of the physical examination by feeling for the amount of muscle and fat present, and evaluating the body conformation (size and shape). We will also obtain a urine sample from the healthy cats only. In addition, you will also be asked to complete a questionnaire about your cat’s diet and dietary supplement intake over the past two weeks.

  • Your cat has been diagnosed with any type of cancer and has not yet been treated by chemotherapy (including steroids), radiation or surgery
  • You have a healthy cat
  • All blood work (chemistry screen and complete blood count), urinalysis (for healthy cats only) and body condition evaluation are covered by the study
The results of this study may yield information that may be beneficial for cats with cancer in the future. If we find that cats with cancer have a syndrome similar to human cancer cachexia, future studies of cats with cancer cachexia may yield information that may also be beneficial for people with cancer cachexia.
For more information please contact the VCIC at 215-573-0302 or vcic@vet.upenn.edu

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