Cancer of Plasma Cells in Ferrets


PetMD Editorial

Published Jun. 13, 2010

Multiple Myeloma in Ferrets

Multiple myeloma is a rare form of cancer that is derived from a clonal population of cancerous (malignant) plasma cells. Although the cancerous cells typically concentrate in the bone marrow, they may also present themselves in the liver, spleen, kidney, pharynx, lung, gastrointestinal tract or lymph nodes. There have been only three reported cases of multiple myeloma disease in ferrets, but many others may go unreported.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms depend on location and extent of disease. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Weakness
  • Lameness
  • Pain at the site of the tumor
  • Fractures
  • Partial paralysis, or paralysis




There are many conditions and diseases that can cause these symptoms, so your veterinarian will want to rule out other potential causes. He or she will do a thorough physical exam, blood test, and urinalysis initially. Your veterinarian may then X-ray the ferret’s skeleton and perform an ultrasound to examine the visceral organs. He or she may also do a bone-marrow aspiration to determine the extent of plasma cells therein.


If there is an abnormal increase in the concentration of urea or other nitrogenous substance in its blood plasma, your ferret may require hospitalization. If your pet is dehydrated or refusing to eat, it may need to be hospitalized too. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are also often recommended by veterinarians; however, success rates and treatment protocols for these procedures have not been reported. Your veterinarian will discuss side effects with you. Areas unresponsive to chemotherapy or solitary lesions may be removed surgically.

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