Neoplastic diseases in ferrets: 574 cases (1968-1997).

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

PubMedID: 9589126

Li X, Fox JG, Padrid PA. Neoplastic diseases in ferrets: 574 cases (1968-1997). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1998;212(9):1402-6.
OBJECTIVE
To determine incidence of neoplastic disease in ferrets.

DESIGN
Retrospective study.

ANIMALS
574 ferrets with neoplastic disease.

PROCEDURE
Medical records from the Veterinary Medical Data Base at Purdue University from 1968 to May 1997 were reviewed to identify ferrets with neoplastic disease. Data on tumor type, organ or system affected, sex, age, geographic location of affected ferrets, participating institution, and year of diagnosis were retrieved.

RESULTS
639 tumors of various types were diagnosed in 574 of 4,774 (12%) ferrets in the database. Sixty-one ferrets had multiple tumor types. Primary tumors were found in every system; endocrine (254; 39.7%), hemolymphatic (97; 15.2%), integumentary (83; 12.9%), and digestive (54; 8.4%) systems were most commonly affected. The most common tumor types were pancreatic islet cell (139; 21.7%) and adrenocortical cell (107; 16.7%) tumors and lymphoma (76; 11.9%). Most (94.2%) pancreatic islet cell tumors were functional. Age of affected ferrets ranged from less than 1 month to more than 15 years old. Tumor incidence was highest in ferrets between 4 and 7 years old. A sex predilection was not found, although tumors were found more commonly in spayed females and castrated males than in sexually intact females and males, respectively. Number of tumors diagnosed increased as the number of ferrets examined increased. Neoplastic disease accounted for an increasingly greater percentage of diseases diagnosed in ferrets during the study period.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS
Ferrets have an incidence and spectrum of neoplastic disease similar to other mammalian species.