Use of Prednisone in Cats' Cancer Treatment

Lili Duda, VMD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
My cat was diagnosed with mammary cancer 3 years ago and had surgery but no other treatment was suggested. Tumors recurred with a second surgery recently. She is now on a chemotherapy schedule but prognosis is poor. One of the drugs she is taking is prednisone (daily) and I would like to know what effect this drug is supposed to have.  
Thank you.

Lili Duda, VMD, Editor of the OncoLink Veterinary Oncology Section, responds:

Prednisone is a drug that has many uses. It is related to cortisone and cortisol, which are naturally produced by the body in tiny quantities. At low dosages, prednisone is an anti-inflammatory drug useful in a variety of conditions such as allergies. At high dosages, it is immunosuppresive (for auto-immune and immune-mediated diseases) and chemotherapeutic for a few particular blood cancers such as lymphoma and mast cell tumors. At moderate dosages it is an appetite stimulant and anti-nausea medication. Prednisone is often used in cats receiving chemotherapy such as doxorubicin (Adriamycin) for this reason.