Ferret
Animal Welfare Information Center
United States Department of Agriculture
National Agricultural Library  

Animal Welfare Information Center logo

Information Resources on the Care and Welfare of Ferrets


Return to Contents

Neoplasia / Tumors

Angella, P.R.A., K.A. Margit, and H. Gyula (2004). A vadaszgoreny (Mustela putorius furo) nemi mukodese, valamint gyakoribb ivarszervi es hormonalis megbetegedesei -irodalmi attekintes 4. Endokrin eredetu bokelvaltozasok, hormonalis megbetegedesek. [Reproduction, genital malfunctions and endocrine disorders of domestic ferrets (Mustela putorius furo): Literature review. 4. Endocrine skin lesions, hormonal diseases]. Magyar Allatorvosok Lapja 126(9): 553-560. ISSN: 0025-004X.
Descriptors: endocrine system, tumor biology, endocrine disease, pathology, metabolic disease, adrenal, metabolic disease, epidemiology, neoplastic disease.
Language of Text: Hungarian.

Bielinska, M., S. Kiiveri, H. Parviainen, S. Mannisto, M. Heikinheimo, and D.B. Wilson (2006). Gonadectomy-induced Adrenocortical Neoplasia in the Domestic Ferret (Mustela putorius furo) and Laboratory Mouse. Veterinary Pathology 43(2): 97-117. ISSN: 0300-9858.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 P27
Abstract: Sex steroid-producing adrenocortical adenomas and carcinomas occur frequently in neutered ferrets, but the molecular events underlying tumor development are not well understood. Prepubertal gonadectomy elicits similar tumors in certain inbred or genetically engineered strains of mice, and these mouse models shed light on tumorigenesis in ferrets. In mice and ferrets, the neoplastic adrenocortical cells, which functionally resemble gonadal steroidogenic cells, arise from progenitors in the subcapsular or juxtamedullary region. Tumorigenesis in mice is influenced by the inherent susceptibility of adrenal tissue to gonadectomy-induced hormonal changes. The chronic elevation in circulating luteinizing hormone that follows ovariectomy or orchiectomy is a prerequisite for neoplastic transformation. Gonadectomy alters the plasma or local concentrations of steroid hormones and other factors that affect adrenocortical tumor development, including inhibins, activins, and M_ullerian inhibiting substance. GATA-4 immunoreactivity is a hallmark of neoplastic transformation, and this transcription factor might serve to integrate intracellular signals evoked by different hormones. Synergistic interactions among GATA-4, steroidogenic factor-1, and other transcription factors enhance expression of inhibin-[alpha] and genes critical for ectopic sex steroid production, such as cytochrome P450 17[alpha]-hydroxylase/17,20 lyase and aromatase. Cases of human adrenocortical neoplasia have been linked to precocious expression of hormone receptors and to mutations that alter the activity of G-proteins or downstream effectors. Whether such genetic changes contribute to tissue susceptibility to neoplasia in neutered ferrets and mice awaits further study.
Descriptors: ferrets, mice, ovariectomy, castration, complications, adrenal cortex, neoplasms, carcinogenesis, steroidogenesis, steroid hormones, luteinizing hormone (LH), transcription factors, literature reviews, orchiectomy, adrenal tumors, tumor development.

Buchanan, K.C. and D.A. Belote (2003). Pancreatic islet cell tumor in a domestic ferret. Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science 42(6): 46-48. ISSN: 1060-0558.
NAL Call Number: SF405.5.A23
Abstract: A 5-year-old castrated male ferret began to exhibit signs of episodic lethargy, hindlimb weakness, and ataxia along with mild to moderate weight loss. Serial blood glucose measurements revealed persistent hypoglycemia. The animal was euthanized and a necropsy performed. Discrete pancreatic nodules were discovered and submitted for histopathologic analysis. One of the nodules was found to contain pancreatic islet cell tumors; other areas contained foci of islet cell and acinar hyperplasia. Pancreatic islet cell tumors, commonly referred to as insulinomas, are common tumors in ferrets and typically occur in middle-aged and older animals. These animals, when properly diagnosed, can be managed either medically or surgically or, often, by a combination of medical and surgical treatments, and their lives greatly extended.
Descriptors: ferrets, insulinoma, pancreas, pancreatic neoplasms, hypoglycemia, insulinoma, photomicrography.

Darby, C. and V. Ntavlourou (2006). Hepatic hemangiosarcoma in two ferrets (Mustela putorius furo). Veterinary Clinics of North America. Exotic Animal Practice 9(3): 689-694. ISSN: 1094-9194.
NAL Call Number: SF997.5.E95 E97
Abstract: Two ferrets were presented to the authors' clinic. Hemoperitoneum was diagnosed in one ferret, and an abdominal mass was palpated in the other. One ferret was euthanized and necropsied, and one ferret underwent exploratory laparotomy and liver lobectomy. In both cases, the histopathologic diagnosis was hepatic hemangiosarcoma.
Descriptors: ferrets, hemangiosarcoma, hepatic, abdominal mass, laparotomy, diagnosis, liver lobectomy.

De Voe, R.S., L. Pack, and C.B. Greenacre (2002). Radiographic and CT imaging of a skull associated osteoma in a ferret. Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 43(4): 346-348. ISSN: 1058-8183.
NAL Call Number: SF757.8.A4
Descriptors: ferrets, case reports, skull, radiography, computed tomography, diagnostic value, biopsy, neoplasms, mandible.

Defalque, V. and C. Carozzo (2003). Cancerologie du furet. Insulinome chez un furet male castre age de cinq ans. [Oncology of ferrets. Insulinoma in a five-year old castrated male ferret]. Le Point Veterinaire 234: 64-68, 1283. ISSN: 0335-4997.
Abstract: Un furet age de cinq ans est refere pour des episodes de troubles neurologiques recurrents associes a du ptyalisme depuis trois semaines. Les examens biochimiques mettent en evidence une hypoglycemie. Une echographie abdominale revele l' existence d' un nodule pancreatique. Un traitement medical preoperatoire est instaure, mais l' animal est presente en urgence le lendemain en etat de crise hypoglycemique. Apres stabilisation de l' etat general, une pancreatectomie partielle est realisee. L' analyse histopathologique conclut a un adenome des cellules des ilots de Langerhans pour lequel le pronostic est bon. Le diagnostic de l' insulinome chez les carnivores domestiques repose essentiellement sur des elements epidemiologiques et cliniques, la satisfaction a un certain nombre de criteres, et le recours a des examens biochimiques et echographiques.
Descriptors: ferrets, pet animals, pancreas, adenoma, surgical operations, animal glands, digestive system, Mustelidae, neoplasms.
Language of Text: French.

Eatwell, K. (2004). Two unusual tumours in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Journal of Small Animal Practice 45(9): 454-459. ISSN: 0022-4510.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 J8292
Abstract: This case report describes the clinical history, diagnosis and treatment of a ferret with a tumour of the right adrenal gland and insulinomas of the pancreas. Histopathology of both lesions confirmed the diagnoses. Clinical signs of the adrenal gland tumour were a swollen vulva, overgrooming, sexual activity and pruritus. The clinical signs suggesting insulinomas were collapse of the ferret, disorientation and ptyalism. A low blood glucose level assisted the diagnosis of insulinomas. This is believed to be the first reported case of concurrent insulinomas and adrenal gland tumour in a ferret in the United Kingdom.
Descriptors: ferrets, adenoma, adrenal gland neoplasms, insulinoma, pancreatic neoplasms, treatment outcome, surgery.

Garcia, A., S.E. Erdman, S. Xu, Y. Feng, A.B. Rogers, M.D. Schrenzel, J.C. Murphy, and J.G. Fox (2002). Hepatobiliary inflammation, neoplasia, and argyrophilic bacteria in a ferret colony. Veterinary Pathology 39(2): 173-179. ISSN: 0300-9858.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 P27
Abstract: Hepatobiliary disease was diagnosed in eight of 34 genetically unrelated cohabitating pet ferrets (Mustela putorios furo) during a 7-year period. The eight ferrets ranged in age from 5 to 8 years and exhibited chronic cholangiohepatitis coupled with cellular proliferation ranging from hyperplasia to frank neoplasia. Spiral-shaped argyrophilic bacteria were demonstrated in livers of three ferrets, including two with carcinoma. Sequence analysis of a 400-base pair polymerase chain reaction product amplified from DNA derived from fecal bacteria from one ferret demonstrated 98% and 97% similarity to Helicobacter cholecystus and Helicobacter sp. strain 266-1 , respectively. The clustering of severe hepatic disease in these cohabitating ferroes suggests a possible infectious etiology. The role of Helicobacter species and other bacteria in hepatitis and/or neoplasia in ferrets requires further study.
Descriptors: ferrets, helicobacter infections, Helicobacter pylori, liver diseases, bile duct neoplasms, biliary tract diseases, cholangiocarcinoma, cystadenoma, bacterial DNA, hepatitis, hyperplasia, immunohistochemistry, liver microbiology.

Graham, J., J. Fidel, and M. Mison (2006). Rostral maxillectomy and radiation therapy to manage squamous cell carcinoma in a ferret. Veterinary Clinics of North America. Exotic Animal Practice 9(3): 701-706. ISSN: 1094-9194.
NAL Call Number: SF997.5.E95 E97
Abstract: A 4-year-old, male, neutered ferret presented with squamous cell carcinoma of the right maxillary region associated with the tissues surrounding the upper canine tooth. A rostral maxillectomy was performed to excise the mass. Histopathologic examination showed questionable margins of tumor removal. Approximately 2 months after surgery, the ferret received a course of radiation therapy and is currently being monitored for tumor regrowth.
Descriptors: ferret, squamos cell carcinoma, radiation therapy, rostral maxillevtomy.

Hanley, C.S., G.H. Wilson, P. Frank, D.K. James, K.P. Carmichael, D. Pesti, and B. Ritchie (2004). T cell lymphoma in the lumbar spine of a domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Veterinary Record 155(11): 329-332. ISSN: 0042-4900.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 V641
Abstract: A 22-month-old castrated male ferret developed acute pelvic limb paresis. Radiographs and computed tomography revealed a soft tissue mass with associated bony lysis of L5, and ultrasound-guided fine needle aspirates suggested that it was a lymphoma. Treatment with prednisone at immunosuppressive doses did not produce any detectable improvement in the ferret's clinical signs and it became moribund less than two weeks after they developed. A postmortem biopsy confirmed the presence of a lymphoma which had invaded the vertebral bone. No viruses were detected by cell culture, or electron microscopy.
Descriptors: ferrets, lumbar vertebrae, t cell lymphoma, spinal neoplasms, blood chemical analysis, x ray computed tomography, case study.

Hess, L. (2005). Ferret lymphoma: The old and the new. Seminars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine 14(3): 199-204. ISSN: 1055-937X.
NAL Call Number: SF994.2.A1536
Descriptors: ferrets, lymphoma, spleen, liver, lymph nodes, kidneys, etiology, potential causes, review, clinical signs, treatment options.
Notes: In the special issue: Oncology.

Jones, Y., A. Wise, R. Maes, and M. Kiupel (2006). Peliod hepatocellular carcinoma in a domesticated ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 18(2): 228-231. ISSN: 1040-6387.
NAL Call Number: SF774.J68
Abstract: Peliod hepatocellular carcinoma was diagnosed in a domesticated ferret (Mustela putorius furo). The diagnosis was made using immunohistochemical analysis, histologic examination, and the accepted classification schemes based on histomorphologic features. Bilateral, adrenocortical hyperplasia also was evident. Speculation about a possible association between the variant of hepatocellular neoplasia diagnosed in this animal and its adrenal pathologic changes was done.
Descriptors: domesticated ferret, peliod hepatocellular carcinoma, diagnosis.

Kawaguchi, H., N. Miyoshi, M. Souda, H. Maeda, H. Kawashima, K. Gejima, K. Uchida, Y. Umekita, and H. Yoshida (2006). Renal Adenocarcinoma in a Ferret. Veterinary Pathology 43(3): 353-356. ISSN: 0300-9858.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 P27
Abstract: A spontaneous case of renal tumor was observed in a 7-year-old ovariectomized female pet ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Clinical signs included exhaustion, emaciation, anorexia, and stooping position. At necropsy, a solid and cystic mass replaced the left kidney and adrenal gland. The tumor was composed of pleomorphic epithelial cells with a large number of giant cells. Metastases were recognized in the lung, liver, greater omentum, right renal pelvis, and systemic lymph nodes. Immunohistochemical stains revealed that the tumor cells were positive for CD10, cytokeratin (CAM 5.2), and Ki-67 (MIB-1). On the basis of morphologic and immunohistochemical features, the tumor was diagnosed as a pleomorphic renal adenocarcinoma. This type of neoplasm is very rare in all species and has never been reported in a ferret.
Descriptors: Mustela putorius, case studies, kidney diseases, adenocarcinoma, metastasis, histopathology.

Lair, S., I.K. Barker, K.G. Mehren, and E.S. Williams (2006). Renal Tubular-cell Neoplasms in Black-footed Ferrets (Mustela nigripes)-38 Cases. Veterinary Pathology 43(3): 276-280. ISSN: 0300-9858.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 P27
Abstract: Thirty-eight cases of renal tubular cell neoplasms were diagnosed in 184 captive, adult (>1-year-old), black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) examined from 1985 to 1996. This prevalence (20.7%) is one of the highest reported for this neoplasm in a population of animals. These tumors rarely metastasized (1/38), and usually were incidental postmortem findings, associated clinical disease being present in only 3 (8%) of the 38 cases. The prevalence of renal tubular cell neoplasms found at postmortem examination increased linearly with age, up to 67% in ferrets >8 years old. Both males (prevalence = 19%) and females (prevalence = 24%) were affected. Multiple renal tumors were common, and seven ferrets (18.4% of affected animals) had bilateral tumors. The cause of this neoplastic syndrome could not be determined. Since most of the animals affected by this condition were in their postreproductive years of life, the impact of this neoplastic syndrome on the captive propagation of this species is negligible.
Descriptors: Mustela nigripes, kidney diseases, neoplasms, animal age, disease prevalence, disease course, zoo animals, endangered species.

Lair, S., I.K. Barker, K.G. Mehren, and E.S. Williams (2002). Epidemiology of neoplasia in captive black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes), 1986-1996. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 33(3): 204-223. ISSN: 1042-7260.
NAL Call Number: SF601.J6
Abstract: The epidemiology of neoplastic disease was studied retrospectively in the captive population of black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes). Postmortem reports were reviewed and archived tissues examined from 184 of the 227 adult (>1 yr old) black-footed ferrets that died from the beginning of the current captive propagation program in late 1985 to the end of 1996. A total of 185 neoplasms, of 28 distinct phenotypes, were seen in 102 (55.4%) of these ferrets. There was more than one tumor type present in 51 ferrets. Tumors of the apocrine glands (28.3%), renal tubular neoplasms (20.7%), and biliary cystadenoma or carcinoma (20.1%) were the most common neoplasms. The probability of developing most types of neoplasms increased with age. Neoplasms of the apocrine glands were more common in males and may be hormonally influenced. The unusually high prevalence of biliary cystadenocarcinoma may be secondary to the common occurrence of intrahepatic biliary cysts in this population. Although neoplasia is an important cause of mortality in captive adult black-footed ferrets, its impact on captive propagation of the species, and on the wild population, is probably limited because clinically significant tumors are encountered almost exclusively in postreproductive ferrets (>3 yr old) and because ferrets released into their natural habitat rarely reach susceptible age.
Descriptors: blsckfooted ferrets, neoplasms, age distribution, logistic models, neoplasms classification and epidemiology, prevalence, retrospective studies, Wyoming, epidemiology.

Liu, C., F. Lian, D.E. Smith, R.M. Russell, and X.D. Wang (2003). Lycopene supplementation inhibits lung squamous metaplasia and induces apoptosis via up-regulating insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 3 in cigarette smoke-exposed ferrets. Cancer Research 63(12): 3138-3144. ISSN: 0008-5472.
Abstract: Higher intake of lycopene is related to a lower risk of lung cancer in human studies. Lung cancer risk is associated with higher plasma levels of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and/or lower levels of IGF-binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3). However, little is known regarding whether lycopene can inhibit cigarette smoke-induced lung carcinogenesis through modulation of IGF-I/IGFBP-3, cell proliferation, and apoptosis. We investigated the effects of lycopene supplementation at a low dose (1.1 mg/kg/day, which is equivalent to an intake of 15 mg/day in humans) and a high dose (4.3 mg/kg/day, which is equivalent to 60 mg/day in humans) on plasma IGF-I/IGFBP-3 levels, histopathological changes, proliferating cellular nuclear antigen (PCNA) expression, BAD phosphorylation, and apoptosis (caspase 3 assay) in lungs of ferrets with or without cigarette smoke exposure for 9 weeks. We found that ferrets supplemented with lycopene and exposed to smoke had significantly higher plasma IGFBP-3 levels (P < 0.01) and a lower IGF-I/IGFBP-3 ratio (P < 0.01) than ferrets exposed to smoke alone. Both low- and high-dose lycopene supplementations substantially inhibited smoke-induced squamous metaplasia and PCNA expression in the lungs of ferrets. No squamous metaplasia or PCNA overexpression were found in the lungs of control ferrets or those supplemented with lycopene alone. Furthermore, cigarette smoke exposure greatly increased BAD phosphorylation at both Ser(136) and Ser(112) and significantly decreased cleaved caspase 3 in the lungs of ferrets, as compared with controls. The elevated phosphorylation of BAD and down-regulated apoptosis induced by cigarette smoke in the lungs of ferrets was prevented by both low- and high-dose lycopene supplementations. Lycopene levels were increased in a dose-dependent manner in both plasma and lungs of ferrets supplemented with lycopene alone. However, lycopene levels were markedly lower in both plasma and lungs of ferrets supplemented with lycopene and exposed to smoke. Furthermore, smoke exposure increased cis isomers (26% for 13-cis and 22% for 9-cis) of lycopene in the lungs of ferrets, compared with that of ferrets supplemented with lycopene alone (20% for 13-cis and 14% for 9-cis). In conclusion, lycopene may mediate its protective effects against smoke-induced lung carcinogenesis in ferrets through up-regulating IGFBP-3 and down-regulating phosphorylation of BAD, which promote apoptosis and inhibit cell proliferation.
Descriptors: ferrets, anticarcinogenic agents, apoptosis, carotenoids, adverse effects of smoke, anticarcinogenic agents, carrier proteins, caspases, cell division, dietary supplements, drug evaluation, lung metabolism, metaplasia, animal models, phosphorylation, post translational drug effects.

Lloyd, C.G. and W.G. Lewis (2004). Two cases of pancreatic neoplasia in British ferrets (Mustela putorius furo). The Journal of Small Animal Practice 45(11): 558-562.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 J8292
Abstract: Two six-year-old male neutered polecat ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) were presented for the investigation of acute collapse or periodic weakness and weight loss. While blood biochemistry revealed hypoglycaemia in both cases, diagnosis of an insulin-secreting neoplasia was confirmed by exploratory surgery in one case and supported by the use of an insulin assay in the other. Subsequent histopathological examination showed the former to be a pancreatic islet cell carcinoma and the latter to be a pancreatic islet cell adenoma. While neoplasia of the pancreas commonly affects ferrets in the USA, there appears to be only one previous report from the UK.
Descriptors: ferrets, adenoma, islet cell, carcinoma, pancreatic neoplasms, epidemiology, pathology, carcinoma islet cell, epidemiology, pathology, Great Britain, epidemiology, immunohistochemistry, pancreatic neoplasms, epidemiology, pathology.

Mayer, J. (2006). Update on ferret lymphoma. In: Small animal and exotics Proceedings of the North American Veterinary Conference., January 7, 2006-January 11, 2006, Orlando, Florida, USA., The North American Veterinary Conference: Gainesville, USA, Vol. 20, p. 1748-1749.
Online: http://www.tnavc.org
Descriptors: ferrets, update, lymphoma, radiotherapy, treatment, diagnosis.

Mikaelian, I. and M.M. Garner (2002). Solitary dermal leiomyosarcomas in 12 ferrets. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 14(3): 262-265. ISSN: 1040-6387.
NAL Call Number: SF774.J68
Abstract: Twelve 3-6-year-old ferrets (8 males, 3 females, 1 unknown) were presented with single cutaneous nodules. These dermal tumors were characterized histologically by nodular proliferation of neoplastic smooth muscle fibers with marked anisokaryosis and a mitotic rate of >2 mitoses per 10 high-power fields. Neoplastic cells stained strongly for vimentin in all tumors and for smooth muscle actin and desmin in all but 1 tumor. Histologic and immunohistochemical findings suggested a diagnosis of piloleiomyosarcoma for these tumors. Excision was curative in all animals available for follow-up. However, 3 of 5 animals developed adrenal disease within 7 months after removal of the dermal leiomyosarcoma.
Descriptors: ferrets, leiomyosarcoma, immunohistochemistry, leiomyosarcoma pathology, smooth muscle pathology, skin neoplasms pathology, dermal tumors.

Munday, J.S., C.A. Brown, and L.J. Richey (2004). Suspected metastatic coccygeal chordoma in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 16(5): 454-458. ISSN: 1040-6387.
NAL Call Number: SF774.J68
Abstract: A chordoma was removed from the tail base of a 6.5-year-old ferret (Mustela putorius furo). A nodule was observed in the area of tumor development when the ferret was purchased at 3 months of age. Although the nodule did not enlarge for 2 years, slow, steady growth of the tumor was observed for 4 years before surgical removal. Eight months after removal of the chordoma, the ferret developed 2 cutaneous masses. One was adjacent to the vulva, close to where the chordoma had been removed from, whereas the other was in the nasofacial region. After 4 months of slow growth, both masses were removed and both were histologically and immunohistochemically consistent with chordoma. Over the next 8 weeks, additional masses developed in the facial, maxillary gingival, and scapular regions. Enlargement of the gingival mass caused dysphagia, and the ferret was euthanized. Although a necropsy was not performed, these additional masses had a clinical appearance and texture that was similar to the 2 previously removed cutaneous chordomas. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of a ferret coccygeal chordoma that developed close to the base of the tail. Ferret chordomas have been reported previously to metastasize to the subcutis overlying the tumor. However, this is the first report of a ferret chordoma that metastasized to a location distant to the primary site of neoplasm development. Cell proliferation indices did not predict this metastatic behavior. It is hypothesized that the long clinical period before removal may have predisposed this neoplasm to metastasis. Observations from this case suggest that chordomas in ferrets may have metastatic potential and so should be removed promptly.
Descriptors: chordoma, ferrets, spinal neoplasms, surgery, facial neoplasms, sacrococcygeal region, skin neoplasms, spinal neoplasms, vulvar neoplasms.

Munday, J.S., N.L. Stedman, and L.J. Richey (2003). Histology and immunohistochemistry of seven ferret vaccination-site fibrosarcomas. Veterinary Pathology 40(3): 288-293. ISSN: 0300-9858.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 P27
Abstract: The anatomical location, histology, and immunohistochemistry of 10 ferret dermal and subcutaneous fibrosarcomas were examined. Seven of the 10 tumors were from locations used for vaccination. All fibrosarcomas contained spindle-shaped cells surrounded by variable quantities of connective tissue stroma. However, vaccination-site fibrosarcomas (VSFs) subjectively contained a higher degree of cellular pleomorphism. Multinucleated cells were present in three of seven VSFs but not in any of the nonvaccination-site fibrosarcomas (NVSFs). Large histiocytic cells, interpreted as macrophages, containing intracytoplasmic basophilic granular material were observed in two VSFs but not in any of the NVSFs. Five VSFs contained peripheral lymphoplasmacytic aggregates. Immunohistochemically, three VSFs stained with anti-smooth muscle actin antibodies and one stained with antibodies against desmin. No expression of muscle cytoskeletal filaments was observed in any NVSF. Filaments interpreted as actin were visible in both the VSFs examined ultrastructurally. One of the VSFs examined ultrastructurally contained intracytoplasmic crystalline material. The preferential development of subcutaneous fibrosarcomas in vaccination sites suggests that, as in cats, vaccination may promote local sarcoma development in ferrets. Additionally, some of the histologic, immunohistochemical, and ultrastructural features of these tumors are similar to those reported for feline vaccine-associated sarcomas. To the authors' knowledge, vaccination has not previously been reported to be oncogenic in any species other than cats.
Descriptors: ferrets, fibrosarcoma, soft tissue neoplasms, vaccination adverse effects, fibrosarcoma etiology, pathology, ultrastructure, immunohistochemistry, retrospective studies, etiology.

Nakanishi, M., M. Kuwamura, J. Yamate, D. Fujita, and H. Sasai (2005). Gastric adenocarcinoma with ossification in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Journal of Veterinary Medical Science 67(9): 939-941. ISSN: 0916-7250.
Abstract: A 6-year-old female ferret had a firm mass 2 cm in diameter in the pyloric region of the stomach. Histopathologically, the mass was composed of neoplastic proliferation of well-differentiated epithelial cells, showing tubular or glandular growth patterns. Osseous metaplastic foci were often found in the tumor. Tumor cells showed a positive reaction for immunohistochemistry against bone morphogenetic protein-6, an osteogenic factor. A diagnosis of gastric adenocarcinoma with ossification was made.
Descriptors: ferrets, adenocarcinoma, pathology, stomach neoplasms, bone, morphogenetic proteins.

Newman, S.J., P.J. Bergman, B. Williams, T. Scase, and D. Craft (2004). Characterization of spindle cell component of ferret (Mustela putorius furo) adrenal cortical neoplasms - correlation to clinical parameters and prognosis. Veterinary and Comparative Oncology 2(3): 113-124. ISSN: 1476-5810.
Descriptors: ferret, adenoal cortical neoplasms, spindle cell component, clinical parameters, prognosis, diagnosis, histopathology, immunohistochemistry.

Patterson, M.M., A.B. Rogers, M.D. Schrenzel, R.P. Marini, and J.G. Fox (2003). Alopecia attributed to neoplastic ovarian tissue in two ferrets. Comparative Medicine 53(2): 213-217. ISSN: 1532-0820.
NAL Call Number: SF77 .C65
Abstract: Ferrets with adrenal gland dysfunction have alopecia as their most common clinical sign of disease. Two cases of alopecia in neutered female ferrets are reported that were associated instead with neoplastic tissue found at the site of an ovarian pedicle. Androstenedione and 17-hydroxyprogesterone, but not estradiol, concentrations were high in both ferrets. Following surgical resection of the abnormal tissue in one ferret, the high hormone values decreased quickly and hair regrowth ensued. In both cases, histologic examination revealed features consistent with classical sex cord-stromal (gonadostromal) tumors: prominent spindle cells, along with polyhedral epithelial cells and cells with vacuolated cytoplasm. Although similar cell types have been described in the adrenal glands of ferrets with adrenal-associated endocrinopathy, an ovarian origin for the current neoplasms is considered likely on the basis of their anatomic location; accessory adrenal tissue has only been described close to an adrenal gland or in the cranial perirenal fat of ferrets. Immunohistochemical analysis, using an antibody against Mullerian-inhibiting substance, failed to prove definitively the source of the steroidogenic cells.
Descriptors: ferrets, alopecia, adrenal gland diseases, ovarian cancer, estradiol, progesterone, androstenedione, immunohistochemistry, excision of the ovaries.

Peterson, R.A., M. Kiupel, M. Bielinska, S. Kiiveri, M. Heikinheimo, C.C. Capen, and D.B. Wilson (2004). Transcription factor GATA-4 is a marker of anaplasia in adrenocortical neoplasms of the domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Veterinary Pathology 41(4): 446-449. ISSN: 0300-9858.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 P27
Abstract: Adrenocortical neoplasms are a common cause of morbidity in neutered ferrets. Recently we showed that gonadectomized DBA/2J mice develop adrenocortical tumors that express transcription factor GATA-4. Therefore, we screened archival specimens of adrenocortical neoplasms from neutered ferrets to determine whether GATA-4 could be used as a tumor marker in this species. Nuclear immunoreactivity for GATA-4 was evident in 19/22 (86%) of ferret adrenocortical carcinomas and was prominent in areas exhibiting myxoid differentiation. Normal adrenocortical cells lacked GATA-4 expression. Two other markers of adrenocortical tumors in gonadectomized mice, inhibin-alpha and luteinizing hormone receptor, were coexpressed with GATA-4 in some of the ferret tumors. No GATA-4 expression was observed in three cases of nodular hyperplasia, but patches of anaplastic cells expressing GATA-4 were evident in 7/14 (50%) of tumors classified as adenomas. We conclude that GATA-4 can function as a marker of anaplasia in ferret adrenocortical tumors.
Descriptors: ferrets, adrenal cortex neoplasms, adrenocortical carcinoma, DNA binding, proteins metabolism, transcription factors, tumor markers, biological metabolism.

Peterson, R.A., M. Kiupel, and C.C. Capen (2003). Adrenal cortical carcinomas with myxoid differentiation in the domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Veterinary Pathology 40(2): 136-142. ISSN: 0300-9858.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 P27
Abstract: A total of 15 adrenocortical carcinomas with myxoid differentiation from 15 ferrets were evaluated in this retrospective study. Six of these ferrets (40%) either were euthanatized or died due to invasive and/or metastatic disease. The myxoid component was a variable part (between 5% and 95%) of the adrenal cortical neoplasm and consisted of sheets and cords of small, polygonal neoplastic cells that formed lumenlike spaces. Such spaces contained a variable amount of alcian blue (pH 2.5)-positive mucinous product (i.e., acidic mucopolysaccharides). Neoplastic cells were negative for the argentaffin reaction, but immunohistochemically they were strongly positive for vimentin and alpha-inhibin and lightly positive for synaptophysin. Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA)-labeling indices (LI) of adrenal cortical neoplastic cells within the myxoid component of the neoplasm were significantly elevated (P < 0.05) compared with those of typical neoplastic adrenal cortical cells or the adjacent nonneoplastic zona reticularis. Ultrastructurally, cells in the myxoid component exhibited a typical adrenocortical phenotype characterized by cytoplasmic lipid vacuoles, prominent rough and smooth endoplasmic reticulum, and zonula adherens. This lesion was interpreted as an adrenal cortical carcinoma with myxoid differentiation and appeared to be highly malignant based on PCNA LI, rate of invasion into adjacent tissue, and metastasis (6/15). This report is the first description of this histologic variant in the ferret, which morphologically resembled the rare myxoid variant of adrenocortical carcinoma described in humans.
Descriptors: ferrets, adrenal cortex neoplasms, adrenocortical carcinoma, myxoma, biopsy, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, proliferating cell nuclear antigen, retrospective studies, synaptophysin, vimentin.

Peterson, R.A. II, M. Kiupel, M. Bielinska, S. Kiiveri, M. Heikinheimo, C.C. Capen, and D.B. Wilson (2004). Transcription factor GATA-4 is a marker of anaplasia in adrenocortical neoplasms of the domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Veterinary Pathology 41(4): 446-449. ISSN: 0300-9858.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 P27
Descriptors: ferret, adenocortical neoplasms, transcription factor GATA-4, disease marker, anaplasia.

Pilny, A.A. and S. Chen (2004). Ferret insulinoma: Diagnosis and treatment. Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian 26(9): 722-728. ISSN: 0193-1903.
NAL Call Number: SF601.C66
Descriptors: ferret, insulinoma, diagnosis, treatment, neoplasia.

Sakai, H., M. Maruyama, A. Hirata, K. Yonemaru, T. Yanai, and T. Masegi (2004). Rhabdomyosarcoma in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Journal of Veterinary Medical Science 66(1): 95-96. ISSN: 0916-7250.
Abstract: A 5-year-old spayed male ferret showed a subcutaneous mass in the right lateral thoracic wall. Microscopic examination revealed that the neoplasm had proliferated in the subcutis with infiltration into the surrounding tissues. A packed bundle of large polymorphic neoplastic cells, containing abundant eosinophilic cytoplasm and a round to ovoid, occasionally bizarre nucleus, were arranged interwoven. The neoplasm had metastasized to the right axillary lymph node. The neoplastic cells were intensively positive for vimentin, desmin and myoglobin. Skeletal muscle type creatine phosphokinase-positive granules were detected in the cytoplasm. Ultrastructurally, various amounts of disorganized myofibrils with focal density resembling the Z-band were shown in the cytoplasm of the neoplastic cells. The neoplasia was diagnosed as rhabdomyosarcoma.
Descriptors: ferrets, rhabdomyosarcoma, thoracic neoplasms, diagnosis, differential, neoplasm invasiveness, orchiectomy, pathology, ultrastructure.

Saunders, G.K. and B.V. Thomsen (2006). Lymphoma and Mycobacterium avium infection in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 18(5): 513-515. ISSN: 1040-6387.
NAL Call Number: SF774.J68
Abstract: A 6-year-old, neutered male ferret presented with weight loss. Radiography revealed an enlarged liver and other abdominal masses. The ferret was euthanized, and at necropsy, the stomach wall was thickened, mesenteric lymph nodes were enlarged, and the liver contained multifocal tan nodules. Histopathology confirmed lymphoma and granulomatous inflammation in all affected organs. Acid-fast bacilli were present in the lesions and were confirmed to be Mycobacterium avium by PCR.
Descriptors: ferrets, lymphoma, Mycobacterium avium, tuberculosis, fatal outcome, histocytochemistry, lymphoma.

Schoemaker, N.J., M.H. Hage van der, G. Flik, J.T. Lumeij, and A. Rijnberk (2004). Morphology of the pituitary gland in ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) with hyperadrenocorticism. Journal of Comparative Pathology 130(4): 255-265. ISSN: 0021-9975.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 J82
Descriptors: ferrets, diseases, adrenal glands, histopathology, neoplasms, physiopathology, pituitary, morphology.

Schoemaker, N.J., M.H. van der Hage, G. Flik, J.T. Lumeij, and A. Rijnberk (2004). Morphology of the pituitary gland in ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) with hyperadrenocorticism. Journal of Comparative Pathology 130(4): 255-265. ISSN: 0021-9975.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 J82
Abstract: Pituitary tumours are the cause of hyperadrenocorticism in a variety of species, but the role of the pituitary gland in hyperadrenocorticism in ferrets is not known. In this species, the disease is mediated by the action of excess gonadotrophins on the adrenal cortex and is characterized by an excessive secretion of sex steroids. In this study, the pituitary gland of four healthy control ferrets, intact or neutered, and 10 neutered ferrets with hyperadrenocorticism was examined histologically following immunohistochemical labelling for adrenocorticotrophic hormone, alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, growth hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and prolactin. Immunohistochemistry revealed that somatotrophs, thyrotrophs and lactotrophs were the most abundant cell types of the pars distalis of the pituitary gland in the healthy ferrets. The distribution of corticotrophs was similar to that in the dog and man. In ferrets, as in dogs, the melanotrophic cell was almost the only cell type of the pars intermedia. Gonadotrophs were found in the pars distalis of neutered, but not intact ferrets. All the ferrets with hyperadrenocorticism had unilateral or bilateral alterations of the adrenal gland. In addition, in the pituitary gland of two of these ferrets a tumour was detected. These tumours were not immunolabelled by antibodies against any of the pituitary hormones, and had characteristics of the clinically non-functional gonadotroph tumours seen in man. In some of the other ferrets low pituitary immunoreactivity for gonadotrophic hormones was detected, which may have been due to the feedback of autonomous steroid secretion by the neoplastic transformation of the adrenal cortex. It is concluded that initially high concentrations of gonadotrophins resulting from castration may initiate hyperactivity of the adrenal cortex. The low incidence of pituitary tumours and the low density of gonadotrophin-positive cells in non-affected pituitary tissue in this study suggest that persistent hyperadrenocorticism is not dependent on persistent gonadotrophic stimulation.
Descriptors: ferrets, adrenocortical hyperfunction, pituitary gland, adenoma, adrenal glands, castration, pituitary neoplasms.

Stauber, E. and T.J. Baldwin (2005). Ameloblastoma in a ferret. Exotic DVM 6(6): 9. ISSN: 1521-1363.
NAL Call Number: SF981 .E96
Descriptors: ferrets, ameloblastoma, clinical aspects, diagnosis, histopathology, tumors, surgery, therapy.

Tunev, S.S. and M.G. Wells (2002). Cutaneous melanoma in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Veterinary Pathology 39(1): 141-143. ISSN: 0300-9858.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 P27
Abstract: A 4-year-old spayed female ferret (Mustela putorius furo) was clinically evaluated for a slightly raised subcutaneous mass in the dorsal lumbar area. The mass was surgically excised and submitted for histopathologic evaluation. Histologically, the mass was composed of closely packeted large, atypical, polygonal to spindle-shaped cells arranged in sheets and short bundles. A few cells contained variable amounts of granular, brown to black intracytoplasmic pigment. Warthin-Starry and Fontana-Masson silver stains demonstrated variable numbers of fine black intracytoplasmic granules in most cells. The atypical cells stained positively for vimentin and S100 protein and negatively for cytokeratin and Melan A. Ultrastructurally, the neoplastic cells contained intracytoplasmic melanosomes in different stages of development. Compound melanosomes were not identified. To our knowledge, this report documents the first case of a spontaneous cutaneous melanoma in the ferret.
Descriptors: ferrets, melanoma, skin neoplasms, melanoma, ultrastructure, ovariectomy, skin pathology.

van Zeeland, Y.R., S.J. Hernandez Divers, M.W. Blasier, G. Vila Garcia, D. Delong, and N.L. Stedman (2006). Carpal myxosarcoma and forelimb amputation in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Veterinary Record 159(23): 782-785. ISSN: 0042-4900.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 V641
Descriptors: ferret, carpal myxosarcoma, forelimb amputation.

Whittington, J.K., J.A. Emerson, T.M. Satkus, G. Tyagi, A. Barger, and M.E. Pinkerton (2006). Exocrine pancreatic carcinoma and carcinomatosis with abdominal effusion containing mast cells in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Veterinary Clinics of North America. Exotic Animal Practice 9(3): 643-650. ISSN: 1094-9194.
NAL Call Number: SF997.5.E95 E97
Abstract: This case describes the clinical presentation and findings of exocrine pancreatic carcinoma in a 9-year-old female sprayed ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Transcoelomic metastasis and hemorrhagic abdominal effusion were secondary to the neoplasm. The finding of mast cells in abdominal effusion, with a leukocyte component composed primarily of lymphocytes and lesser numbers of neutrophils and macrophages, is an atypical finding, never before reported in ferrets.
Descriptors: ferret, carcinoma, mast cells, abdominal effusion, metastasis.

Williams, B.H. (2002). Squamous cell carcinoma arising from the anal sac in a ferret. Exotic DVM 4(2): 7. ISSN: 1521-1363.
NAL Call Number: SF981 .E96
Descriptors: ferret, anal glands, squamous cell carcinoma, clinical aspects, diagnosis, tumors.

Wills, T.B., A.A. Bohn, N.P. Finch, S.P. Harris, and P. Caplazi (2005). Thyroid follicular adenocarcinoma in a ferret. Veterinary Clinical Pathology 34(4): 405-408. ISSN: 0275-6382.
NAL Call Number: SF601.A54
Abstract: A 5-year-old male castrated ferret was presented to the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine for evaluation of progressive hair loss and a large, rapidly growing ventral neck mass. The patient had been diagnosed previously with an insulinoma, which was managed medically. Fine-needle aspirates of the neck mass were performed. The cytologic results were most consistent with epithelial neoplasia, likely a carcinoma; thyroid origin was considered likely based on tumor location and cell morphology. The tumor grew rapidly, and the owners elected euthanasia 1 week after examination. At necropsy, a circumscribed, ovoid mass disrupted the right cervical musculature next to the right lobe of the thyroid gland. Histopathologic evaluation revealed an infiltrative mass consisting of cuboidal cells arranged in solid sheets and irregular follicles enclosing colloid. The cells were large, with prominent nucleoli, and had a high mitotic rate. The histopathologic diagnosis was consistent with thyroid follicular adenocarcinoma. Immunochemical findings confirmed thyroglobulin production by neoplastic cells, but to a lesser extent than in normal ferret thyroid tissue. To our knowledge, this is the first case of thyroid follicular adenocarcinoma to be reported in a ferret, with only 1 other case of thyroid carcinoma, a C-cell carcinoma, described previously.
Descriptors: ferrets, follicular adenocarcinoma, thyroid neoplasms, immunohistochemistry, thyroid gland, neoplasms, case study.

Return to Top

Return to Contents