From Ferret
Submandibular lymphadenopathy associated with lymphoma in a ferret[1]

Lymphoma is one of the most common systemic neoplasias of mustelids worldwide.

Lymphoma constitutes approximately 10% of diagnosed neoplasia in ferrets[2].

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[3]. 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[4] which have been recorded in ferrets include:

  • Plasmacytic lymphoma[5]
  • Multicentric B-cell lymphoma[6]
  • Gastrointestinal lymphoma[7] - often associated with Helicobacter mustelae[8]
  • Mediastinal lymphoma[9] - common in young ferrets[10]
  • Cutaneous epitheliotropic lymphoma[11]

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.

Concurrent disease states such as hypereosinophilic syndrome[12] or tuberculosis[13] are observed in some patients.

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.


  1. Pet Care
  2. Li X et al (1998) Neoplastic diseases in ferrets: 574 cases (1968-1997). J Am Vet Med Assoc 212(9):1402-1406
  3. Erdman SE et al (1996) Clusters of lymphoma in ferrets. Cancer Invest 14(3):225-230
  4. Hanley CS et al (2004) T cell lymphoma in the lumbar spine of a domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Vet Rec 155(11):329-332
  5. Eshar D et al (2010) Diagnosis and treatment of myelo-osteolytic plasmablastic lymphoma of the femur in a domestic ferret. J Am Vet Med Assoc 237(4):407-414
  6. Gupta A et al (2010) Malignant B-cell lymphoma with Mott cell differentiation in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo). J Vet Diagn Invest 22(3):469-473
  7. Onuma M et al (2008) Cytomorphological and immunohistochemical features of lymphoma in ferrets. J Vet Med Sci 70(9):893-898
  8. Erdman SE et al (1997) Helicobacter mustelae-associated gastric MALT lymphoma in ferrets. Am J Pathol 151(1):273-280
  9. Coleman LA et al (1998) Immunophenotypic characterization of lymphomas from the mediastinum of young ferrets. Am J Vet Res 59(10):1281-1286
  10. Batchelder MA et al (1996) A cluster of cases of juvenile mediastinal lymphoma in a ferret colony. Lab Anim Sci 46(3):271-274
  11. Rosenbaum MR et al (1996) Cutaneous epitheliotropic lymphoma in a ferret. J Am Vet Med Assoc 209(8):1441-1444
  12. Blomme EA et al (1999) Hypereosinophilic syndrome with Hodgkin's-like lymphoma in a ferret. J Comp Pathol 120(2):211-217
  13. Saunders GK & Thomsen BV (2006) Lymphoma and Mycobacterium avium infection in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo). J Vet Diagn Invest 18(5):513-615