In September 2014, I noticed that Boxer, my 10 year old domestic long-haired male cat, showed clinical symptoms such as a stuffy nose and a dry cough. With concern we took Boxer for blood work, chest and abdominal radiographs. After excluding other potential causes such as; rhinitis, foreign body and viral infection, Boxer was placed under general anesthesia for a rhinoscopy guided nasal biopsy. Histopathological results confirmed the presence of highly malignant nasal lymphoma in October of 2014.
After consulting with several oncologists, the most effective conventional therapeutic option offered was radiation therapy. However, our family decided against radiation therapy. The potential side effects and risks were too high. The proximity of the nasal lymphoma to the eyes could cause glaucoma and/or cataract as well as the high chance of metastasis to another organ in the body. Boxer was then placed on short term steroids to decrease inflammation.
After the decision to not place Boxer on radiation, I reached out to Dr. Huisheng Xie, founder and president of the Chi Institute, for alternatives. Following a consultation with Dr. Xie, Boxer was placed on three potent Chinese herbal formulas, Wei Qi Booster, Stasis Breaker, and Xin Yi San. Acupuncture also was also integrated in the initial stages of therapy.
In Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) Wei Qi Booster is used to strengthen Qi, Blood, Yin, Yang and enhance the immune function. Wei Qi Booster is designed for treatment of chronic illness, chronic infection and anemia. It is also treatment to improve general health, prevent upper respiratory infection and improve post chemotherapy/radiation health. Stasis Breaker is used to remove Blood Stasis (since in TCVM nodules and tumors are classified as Blood Stasis and Stagnation) and Xin Yi San is used for nasal Qi Stagnation, nasal congestion and sneezing.
The herbs were mixed into wet food and introduced gradually, paying attention to side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea or appetite loss. Steroids where tapered down and discontinued after 3 months of therapy. Boxer tolerated the herbs very well and until this day he is still free of clinical signs.
Lymphoma, also known as lymphosarcoma, is a malignant cancer of the lymphocytes, cells which can be found in almost every organ in the body. Lymphocytes play an important part in the immune system. It is the most common form of cancer found in cats, and accounts for 33 percent of all feline tumors. Since lymphocytes are found almost everywhere in the body, a number of major body systems are subject to feline lymphoma. The form of lymphoma affecting the thymus gland is called "mediastinal" lymphoma. Tumors of the thymus gland can become very big, causing breathing difficulty and coughing as well as difficulty swallowing. They are most common in young cats, usually two years old or younger. Gastrointestinal lymphoma targets older cats, ranging from seven to ten years and older. Symptoms of gastrointestinal lymphoma are decreased appetite with accompanying weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea. Multicentric lymphoma causes generalized lymphadenopathy, this form is less common. Extranodal lymphoma includes those body systems not included in the above types of lymphoma. They may include one or more of the following systems: nasal cavity (most common), skin, kidneys, or central nervous system.
Most common symptoms of nasal lymphoma are:
• Decreased appetite
• Weight loss
• Difficulty breathing through nasal passages
• Increased attempts to breathe through the mouth
• Facial swelling
• Nasal discharge
While early diagnosis, a thorough work up, very close observation and the use of western technology and knowledge helped us diagnose the underlying cause for Boxer’s clinical signs, Eastern medicine offered a less aggressive, more holistic and natural approach to help decrease the symptoms. Eastern medicine helped strengthen the immune system by suppressing the damage done by cancer cells and improved Boxer's quality of life.