Retrobulbar Lymphoma in Ferrets



A common type of cancer in ferrets, which affects the orbit (rather than the eye itself), is retrobulbar lymphoma. In this disease, the tumor grows behind the eyeballs and pushes them out of their sockets.

“It resembles glaucoma initially because the eyes look bigger and bulgier, but it’s not the eyeball that’s getting bigger. It’s something behind it that’s pushing it out,” Burgess said.[wp_ad_camp_2]

According to Burgess, the only way to confirm the diagnosis is to do ultrasound on the area behind the eyes to see if there is a lump there, do a needle biopsy to see if it is cancerous, and measure the pressure inside the eyeballs to see if there’s an increase in pressure.

“If the pressure is elevated, you know that’s probably glaucoma and usually the eye looks cloudy too,” Burgess said. “But in lymphoma the pressure isn’t necessarily going to go up in the eyeball, but there will be more pressure behind the eye.”

Retrobulbar lymphoma and glaucoma are easily confused, according to Burgess.

“It’s important to tell them apart because the one’s treated entirely differently than the other,” he said. “Lymphoma is a life-threatening disease. Glaucoma will threaten the sight but it’s not anymore dangerous than that.”

The treatment for retrobulbar lymphoma is removal of the tumor and damaged tissues, and perhaps chemotherapy. In severe cases where the eyes have bulged to the point that they can no longer spring back into the sockets, enucleation may be necessary, said Weare, N.H., veterinarian, Michael Dutto, DVM.

“Unfortunately in many cases, the lymphosarcoma is present in other parts of the body,” Dutton said. “Hence it carries a poor prognosis.”


This was taken from “Trauma And Disease Threaten Ferret Eyes And Lives” by Rebecca Sweat (Veterinary Practice News)