A type of white blood cell, lymphocytes play an important and integral role in the body's defenses. When a cancer develops in the lympocyte cells of the immune system, it is referred to as lymphoma, or lymphosarcoma. This can eventually affect the blood, lymph and immune systems, as well as the gastrointestinal and respiratory systems.
Lymphoma is one of the most common diseases seen in pet ferrets. In fact, it is the third most common tumor affecting ferrets, often occurring between the ages of two and five. However, middle-aged ferrets may be asymptomatic (sometimes for years), or have nonspecific signs that wax and wane.
Symptoms are variable depending upon the location and stage of tumor, but generally, they include loss of appetite (anorexia), weakness, lethargy, and weight loss. For example:
Although the cause is still unknown, some suspect viruses to be a factor. Exposure to other ferrets with the disease may be another risk factor.
You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your ferret's health and onset of symptoms. The history and details you provide may give your veterinarian clues as to which organs are being primarily affected. Knowing the starting point can make diagnosis that much easier to pinpoint. Once the initial history has been taken, your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination on your ferret. Routine laboratory testing includes a complete blood count and urinalysis.
Diagnostic imaging, including X-rays and ultrasound, are often used to evaluate the size of regional lymph nodes. Your veterinarian may even recommend taking bone marrow samples, so that they can be sent to a veterinary pathologist for further evaluation and to determine the extent of disease.
A term for a type of neoplasm that is made up of lymphoid tissue; these masses are usually malignant in nature
The return of food into the oral cavity after it has been swallowed
An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness
Small structures that filter out the lymph and store lymphocytes
The disappearance of the signs and symptoms of a particular disease; this is often used in association with cancer
The digestive tract containing the stomach and intestine
Losing of strength; becoming weaker.
Anything that looks different from what is considered to be normal and healthy for that species
The process of making something larger by dilating or stretching it
Term used to refer to a condition of having a disease or affliction but not displaying symptoms of it.
The condition of being drowsy, listless, or weak