What are Tumors of the Musculoskeletal and Nervous Systems?

Unfortunately, there is no known cause for these tumors. If your ferret develops one of these tumors, he may have trouble balancing and have noticeable masses near his head or tail. Tumors of the nervous system often cause seizures and loss of consciousness as well.

If you believe your ferret is exhibiting any of the symptoms of tumors in the musculoskeletal or nervous systems, take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Tumors require immediate treatment—especially if they are cancerous—so there’s no time to waste. 

When a group of cells begin to grow abnormally, they come together to form a tumor, also known as a neoplasm. Ferrets can develop tumors anywhere in their bodies, including in the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Two types of tumors that grow within the musculoskeletal system are known as chordomas and osteomas, while the most common tumors of the nervous system are gliomas and schwannomas.

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Symptoms of Tumors of the Musculoskeletal and Nervous Systems in Ferrets

The symptoms that your ferret exhibits will depend on the location and size of the tumor. Chordomas and osteomas are the most common types of musculoskeletal tumors that your ferret may develop. Symptoms of these tumors include:

  • Difficulty balancing
  • Lethargy
  • Masses around the head, spinal cord, or tail

Gliomas and schwannomas are two of the most common types of nervous system tumors. If your ferret has one of these tumors, he may exhibit these symptoms:

  • Seizures
  • Difficulty balancing
  • Loss of consciousness

Causes of Tumors of the Musculoskeletal and Nervous Systems in Ferrets

It is unclear what causes tumors in the musculoskeletal and nervous system. Tumors can either be cancerous or noncancerous. It is believed that cancerous tumors can be caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors.

Diagnosis of Tumors of the Musculoskeletal and Nervous Systems in Ferrets

If you believe your ferret may have tumors in his musculoskeletal or nervous system, take him to a veterinarian for treatment as soon as possible. Describe the symptoms that you have observed to the vet and let him know when you first began to observe them.

The vet will begin with a physical examination by performing complete blood count, blood chemistry profile, and urinalysis tests. These tests will give the vet a better idea of your ferret’s overall condition. Next, the vet will take X-rays or perform ultrasounds, where he should be able to spot tumors in the musculoskeletal and nervous system. 

Once tumors have been identified, the vet will need to determine if they are cancerous or not. This can be done by performing a biopsy, which involves taking a small sample of tissue from the tumor and analyzing it.  

Treatment of Tumors of the Musculoskeletal and Nervous Systems in Ferrets

Treatment will begin immediately after the tumor has been located and tested for cancer. The method of treatment will depend on the location of the tumor and whether it is cancerous or not. If it is not cancerous, it is recommended that the tumor be surgically removed if possible. Depending on the location of the tumor, amputation may also be necessary. For example, a chordoma tumor may have to be treated by amputating the tail. 

If the tumor is cancerous, the vet will need to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. If it hasn’t spread, surgical removal of the tumor should be enough to treat this condition. But, if it has spread, the tumor will need to be surgically removed, and the ferret may have to go through both chemotherapy and radiation treatment. You may need to bring your ferret to a specialist for this treatment as many veterinarians do not offer this in their offices. 

Unfortunately, in some cases, the cancer has spread so far that the ferret is untreatable. The vet may recommend euthanizing your ferret if he does not believe the cancer will respond to chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

Recovery of Tumors of the Musculoskeletal and Nervous Systems in Ferrets

If your ferret has a noncancerous tumor, he will most likely make a full recovery from this condition. However, if the tumor is cancerous, his chance of recovering will depend on how far the cancer has spread. 

Ferrets who undergo surgery will need to be kept calm and comfortable at home while they recover. It’s important to monitor them closely and let your vet know if you believe your ferret is uncomfortable or exhibiting any new symptoms.

Follow your vet’s instructions closely. You may need to administer antibiotics after surgery to ensure that no bacterial infections develop at the incision. Painkillers may also be provided if your ferret has gone through surgery. The vet will also ask you to bring your ferret in for follow-up visits so he can monitor his condition.