Message Number: YG5741 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-07-24 23:19:00 UTC
Subject: Re: 2nd Request : Possible Juvenile Lymphoma

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., Lisa Ferret mom <ferretmom14559@y...>
> > We have a 2 yr old MF male with possible juvenile
> > lymphoma. I brought him to our vet today (he is
> supposed to be one of the top ferret vets going).
> Just our luck that he left today for a two week
> > vacation in Alaska. However the techs in his office
> > are also very ferret knowledgable and are doing
> everything they can to help my little one.
> >
> > This is what little I know and I am looking for some
> > guidance. He was not eating and was passing very
> small amounts of stool. Up until last night I believe
> he had been eating some. When I came home last
> > night he had broken out of the cage and was running
> > through the house like crazy. After picking up the
> mess he had made I returned him to
> > the cage for the night. I tried to give him a
> > treat, but he wanted no part of it. That in itself
> is not all that uncommon. He can sometimes be picky.
> This last week I had been trying to determine if
> > he had lost weight or if our other male had been
> > putting on a few.
> It turns out he is down from 2.13 lbs to 2.5 lbs.
> > He is still drinking very well, just has a complete
> loss of interest in food. They said there are no
> signs of dehydration. With three of them
> > sharing a cage it gets hard to determine how much
> > each is eating and using the litter. I had to stand
> vigil over the litter to see what was going on with
> him in that respect. I was happy to see he was
> > still going, just in very small amounts.
> >
> > The hospital took an xray which confirmed a large
> > mass near his spleen. They are force feeding him
> soup and starting him on a steriod treatment that will
> hopefully reduce the mass and increase his appetite.
> >
> > If we can get him to eat(I am fully prepared to feed
> > him the duck soup as much as he needs it), is it
> safe to wait the two weeks until
> > the vet returns or should I seek out another vet in
> > the area? This little one is my buddy and I want
> the best for him. Other than his loss of appetite, he
> had been acting completely normal. The tech
> > said there is another vet accross town who sees
> > ferrets, but she did not sound overly enthused about
> him.

Dear Lisa:

While I cannot totally rule out the possibility of JL in this case,
the presentation and the information that we have - sketchy as it is
is not overly consistent with a diagnosis of JL. (You can find more
information on lymphoma at my web site at

Let's look at the situation - JL usually presents as a neoplasm which
affects the organs of the body, rather than the lymph nodes (which is
seen in the adult onset forms). When first diagnosed, there is
usually advanced disease in the liver, spleen and thymus, resulting
in swelling of these organs. Most cases of JL are seen only after
the thymus has increased in size to where it is compressing the
lulngs and breathing is difficult (this is why the average life span
of untreated JL is about two weeks, as compared to several months
when treated aggressively.

Now your ferret has no described evidence of any organ enlargements
on the X-ray, and races around the house - not what you would expect
with JL. While I can't tell you what the mass in the abdomen is, I
think that the best thing to do is to have it taken out an evaluated -
no sense messing around.

Also, if he is not eating well, then don't expect a lot of poop.
Another possibilyt here in a young ferret would have to be a GI
foreign body - they can occasionally mimic abdominal masses. I note
that no bloodwork has been run - an oversight if JL is a serious

My suggestion - let's see if you can get a referral to address this a
bit faster than two weeks - the office can probably give you the name
of someone locally who can handle a good abdominal exploratory.

With kindest regards,

Bruce Williams, DVM