Educational Articles

Small Mammals + Tumors

  • Cytology is the microscopic examination of cell samples. Cytology can be used to diagnose growths or masses found on the surface of the body, and also to assess bodily fluids, internal organs, and abnormal fluids that may accumulate, especially in the chest and abdomen. Cells can be collected using various methods including fine needle aspiration, skin scraping, impression smear, cotton-tipped swabs, or lavage. A biopsy is the surgical removal of a representative sample of tissue from a suspicious lesion. The most common biopsy techniques are punch biopsy, wedge biopsy, and excision biopsy. The tissue is then processed and is examined under a microscope via histopathology. Histopathology allows the veterinary pathologist to make a diagnosis, classify the tumor, and predict the course of the disease.

  • Ferrets can suffer from tumors in any part of their body, ranging from benign cancers of the skin to aggressive malignant tumors of internal organs. A large number of ferrets are affected by tumors of the lymphoid system. This handout will discuss lymphomas and lymphosacromas.

  • There are four major hormonal diseases in ferrets. This handout covers adrenal gland disease and diabetes mellitus. Adrenal gland disease occurs in a large number of ferrets in North America, while diabetes mellitus is a rare, but an important problem.

  • Ferrets can suffer from tumors in any part of their body, ranging from benign cancers of the skin to aggressive malignant tumors of internal organs. A large number of ferrets are affected by tumors of the lymphoid system and the pancreas.

  • Mast cell tumors are the most common skin tumor found in ferrets. They can also be found internally on the spleen. They arise from a cell type called a mast cell. In dogs and less so in cats, these tumors can vary from benign to highly malignant.

  • An insulinoma is a tumor that involves the beta cells of the pancreas. Beta cells are the cells that produce the hormone insulin. Insulinomas are surprisingly common in ferrets.

  • Common conditions of pet rabbits include snuffles, internal and external parasites, overgrown incisors, uterine problems (infections or cancer), and sore hocks.

  • Common conditions of pet rodents include respiratory diseases, anorexia and lethargy, overgrown teeth, and tumors.