Lymphosarcoma is a common cancer in the ferret that appears to be on the increase. Lymphosacroma is present in a variety of ways, but its occurrence is partially related to age of the ferret.
Young Ferrets (under 2 years of age)
Lymph nodes are rarely affected; therefore, there is not any enlargement of the lymph nodes that may be easily felt. Malignant cells may be found in many different organs including:
Signs will vary depending on which organs are affected. The thymus is one of the most common organs affected. A rapidly growing thymus compresses the lungs causing respiratory problems often diagnosed as cardiomyopathy or pneumonia. However, if other organs are affected, the clinical signs will change depending on which organ is affected. Leukemic forms, in which neoplastic lymphocytes circulate within the blood, may occur but are rare.
Older ferrets generally will have enlarged lymph nodes that may be felt and evaluated for disease. As the disease progresses the tumor cells spread to liver, kidney, lungs, and spleen resulting in organ failure and death. Often this form of the disease will appear to cause little problem until extensive organ involvement has occurred.
This cancer always has a long term poor prognosis. A variety of chemotherapy treatment protocols have been used. The best results have been obtained when an aggressive treatment combination protocol is used.