Message Number: YG5511 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-07-14 23:01:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Helicobacter + cancer

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., AFERRETVET@c... wrote:
> Awhile back someone asked if Helicobacter mustelae
> has been linked with cancer in ferrets. The answer is yes.
> H. mustelae has been linked with gastric adenocarcinoma
> and with gastric mucosa associated lymphoid tissue (MALT)
> lymphoma. This is similiar to H. pylori and cancer in people.
> I have not seen anything suggesting it can cause cancer
> in the pancreas or anywhere else.
> Jerry Murray, DVM

The link between neoplasia and Helicobacter is tenuous at best.
While the animals in these two reports had gastric neoplasms and
Helicobacter, the omnipresence of Helicobacter and the scarcity of
gastic tumors do not strongly endorse an association.

The report of MALT lymphoma in ferrets with Helicobacter was only in
four ferrets, and the connection with MALT lymphoma was only due to
the B-cell clonality of the neoplastic lymphocytes. The phenotype of
the cells ranged markedly with three different types of lymphoma
being represented overall, and none of these neoplasms showed the
antibiotic sensitivity documented in human Helicobacter-related

The report of gastric adenocarcinoma was based on two ferrets, and
connection was made based on the identification of the bacteria in
the vicinity of the tumor - a tenuous link to be sure.

While I believe that the chronic inflammation caused by Helicobacter
in the ferret stomach may indeed be a trigger for generation of
lymphoma, I don't believe that either of these reports actually gives
enough evidence to support the connection between Helicobacter and
gatric cancers at this time. We know that almost every ferret in
North American has Helicobacter, and gastric tumors represent less
than 1% of all tumors in this species.

With kindest regards,

Bruce williams, DVM