Message Number: FHL12407 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Sukie Crandall
Date: 2010-10-29 17:41:08 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] Re: Time for a Golden Oldie again
To: Ferret Mailing List <ferret-l@LISTSERV.FERRETMAILINGLIST.ORG>, fhl <>

Part 2 of 3 today
There are multiple pieces of info on the misuse of the term "cancer";
here's one which combines the marvelous post of a veterinary
pathologist who is a highly respected ferret expert (Dr. Bruce
Williams) and some dictionary definitions from veterinary/ medical
For example, message 6510 (There ARE others with more info):
At 8:59 AM +0000 8/20/01, Dr. Bruce Williams wrote:
The thread on this is pretty good, and both Sukie and Stephanie have
very valid points. The terminology of neoplasms can be confusing, and
I'm sure even vets can be confused from time to time. The proper term
for what you are talking about is neoplasm (or literally "new growth).
For one reason or another, a clone of cells begins to grow uninhibited
by normal substances or mechanisms.

The word "tumor" may be technically correct, but it is actually non-
specific - tumor is Latin for a swelling, but it could also be an
abscess, or anything else that causes swelling - so I try to stay away
from it.

Now this neoplasm may be benign - without the ability for cells to
detach into the bloodstream or lymph, move to another tissue, and set
up shop - or malignant (where they can do this.)

The process of a microscopic piece of a tumor moving to another organ
is called metastasis. Metastasis is the hallmark of malignancy. The
worst tumors have the propensity to go anywhere and start growing
(like lymphoma). However, we can recognize malignant tumors even
before they metastasize, often by characteristic features seen under
the microscope.

Adrenal carcinomas (malignant adrenal tumors) are interesting
neoplasms. Although they possess the ability to metastasize, only a
small number do, and usually only late in the course of disease. It is
likely that they do metastasize a lot, but have trouble gaining a
foothold in distant tissues, so it takes a long time and many attempts
if they ever truly metastasize.

Insulinomas are generally not malignant tumors as they only very
rarely metastasize. The presence of multiple tumors in the same organ
over time is not metastasis. We do not understand the mechanism behind
the generation of these tumors, and when we do surgery to remove them,
we really are only treating the end point of this process, without
addressing the cause. Thus it is really no surprise that the rate of
recurrence is about 40% within 10 months.

With kindest regards, Bruce Williams, DVM


Treat this as a supporting document to Bruce William's excellent post
above taken from FHL digest 348.
I especially liked his providing the direct translation of "tumor"
as "swelling", and his explanation that not all growths which can
metastasize do so readily.

These definitions below are combined ones from medical, veterinary,
and biology dictionaries, but emphases are mine and i am willing to be
corrected if I blew it...
(New note in 2005 -- in the 4 years that this has run no one has
disagreed with the medical dictionary definitions and it has been read
by vets, physicians, and other experts in that time.
In 2010 that is now 9 years with the definitions still being treated
as acceptable.)

Important Note: some more recent dictionaries don't even include the
term cancer as a valid health term any longer, and I have heard vets
who won't use it due to the widespread confusion out there, and even
some vets who avoid using "tumor' due to too many assuming that any
tumor is malignant and the word itself meaning too many things (and
Dr. Williams partly feels that way about the second word per his
letter above in this post).


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