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To determine the phenotype of naturally developing lymphomas in young ferrets.


10 ferrets with lymphoma.


Neoplastic tissues were graded histologically according to the National Cancer Institute's Working Formulation for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and phenotype was determined by means of immunohistochemical staining. A polyclonal anti-human CD3 and a monoclonal anti-human CD79 antibody were used to classify the lymphomas in situ as T-cell or B-cell origin. Specificity of antibodies was determined by evaluating lymphoid tissue from normal ferrets in situ, which was confirmed by western blot analyses.


All 10 ferrets had clinically aggressive tumors, irrespective of the phenotype. Nine ferrets had T-cell lymphoma that extensively involved the mediastinum. Remnants of thymic tissue, indicative of thymic origin, were identified in lymphoma of these 9 ferrets. One ferret had a B-cell multicentric lymphoma without involvement of the mediastinum.


The majority of lymphomas in these young ferrets involved the mediastinum and were of T-cell phenotype.

Impact for Human Medicine

There are many similarities between the lymphoma syndrome of ferrets and the condition documented for cats and children with lymphoma of the mediastinal area.

Clinical Relevance

Differential diagnoses for young ferrets with clinical signs of lethargy or respiratory distress should include T-cell lymphoma of the mediastinum. ((Am J Vet Res 1998;59:1281-1286)

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


To examine clinical and pathologic findings in 60 ferrets with lymphoma.


Retrospective case series.


60 ferrets in which the diagnosis of lymphoma had been confirmed by means of histologic examination of biopsy or necropsy specimens.


Information including age, sex, coat color, history, clinical signs, clinicopathologic abnormalities, treatment, outcome, and results of histologic examination of biopsy and necropsy specimens were retrieved from medical records of ferrets with spontaneous lymphoma examined between 1982 and 1994 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or private veterinary practices in 10 states. Classification of lymphoma was assigned according to the National Cancer Institute's working formulation for non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, χ2 Trend analysis was used to determine whether age was associated with history, clinical signs, hematologic abnormalities, stage, histologic grade, or outcome.


Acute onset, mediastinal mass, lymphocytosis, and multicentric distribution were linked with younger ferrets, and lymphopenia and survival longer than 2 months after diagnosis was associated with older ferrets. Twenty percent of ferrets in this study had cohabitated with another ferret with lymphoma. Chemotherapeutic efficacy was not evaluated.

Clinical Implications

Clinical and pathologic features linked with age should be considered when evaluating diagnostic and therapeutic options for ferrets with lymphoma. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1996;208: 1297–1301)

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association