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Neuroendocrine Tissue Tumors in Cats


Robert J. Kemppainen

, DVM, PhD, Department of Anatomy, Physiology & Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University

Last full review/revision Aug 2018 | Content last modified Aug 2018

Neuroendocrine tissues are tissues that have both nervous system and hormone-producing functions. They are found in several locations throughout the body. Tumors develop occasionally from neuroendocrine cells in the adrenal glands, digestive tract, or pancreas. These tumors can be benign or malignant. Even if benign, a growing tumor can disrupt nearby healthy tissues and, in some cases, secrete excess hormone. Overall, these types of tumors are rare in cats, other animals, and people.

Pheochromocytomas develop in the medulla of the adrenal gland and affect older animals. They often invade surrounding tissues and can spread to other parts of the body (metastasize). Tumors secrete epinephrine (adrenaline) and/or norepinephrine, which are hormones released during times of stress. Signs can vary and can come and go. The most common signs are weight loss, decreased appetite, depression, weakness, high blood pressure, trouble breathing, increased heart rate, and collapse. Diagnosis is often made with ultrasonography and computed tomography (CT scans). Treatment involves surgery (if feasible) and management of high blood pressure.

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