Lymphoma constitutes approximately 10% of diagnosed neoplasia in ferrets.
Ferret lymphoma is a loose generic term for any cancer affecting lymph cells or lymph nodes. Lymphomas are irregular (neoplastic) growth of lymphoid tissue as tumors, which can affect a single organ (e.g. kidney, mesenteric or mediastinal lymph node, spleen or liver).
Clusters of lymphoma are commonly reported in the literature, suggesting a viral or bacterial causes but as yet no etiological agent(s) has been determined for these sporadic outbreaks in ferret colonies. An association has however been established between lymphoma and Mycobacteriumm avium infections has been reported in this species<.
Types of B-cell and T-cell lymphoma which have been recorded in ferrets include:
- Plasmacytic lymphoma
- Multicentric B-cell lymphoma
- Gastrointestinal lymphoma - often associated with Helicobacter mustelae
- Mediastinal lymphoma - common in young ferrets
- Cutaneous epitheliotropic lymphoma
Diagnosis is based on presenting clinical signs of an aggressive disease state, supported by histological confirmation by a reference laboratory. Ferrets should be routinely screened for feline leukemia virus and Aleutian disease virus.
Regardless of cause or origin of lymphoma, veterinary treatment is relatively uniform, with localized debulking of the tumor and chemotherapy.
Mixed success rates have been reported and depend largely on site, extent of metastases and compliance of the patient to chemotherapeutic drugs.
- Pet Care
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