Cancer of the uterus is a relatively common type of cancer that can develop in female rabbits with their reproductive organs still intact. It's not fully understood why this type of cancer develops in rabbits, but there's often a pre-existing problem with the reproductive organs of rabbits that develop this condition. Age is another contributing factor, with most cases of cancer of the uterus occurring in senior rabbits. This type of cancer is characterised by malignant tumours that form on the endometrial lining or within the deep tissue layers of the uterus. If you have an intact female rabbit it's important to be aware of the signs of cancer of the uterus, as prompt treatment can prevent unnecessary suffering.
A common symptom of cancer of the uterus in rabbits is blood in the urine, which you may notice when changing their bedding or litter box. Blood-stained vaginal discharge, lethargy and loss of appetite are also common. Your rabbit may also become aggressive, irritable or withdrawn, which tends to mean they are experiencing pain. Without treatment, palpable abdominal masses can develop and their mammary glands can become swollen due to hormonal changes caused by the tumours.
Diagnosis And Treatment
Your vet will diagnose your rabbit by carrying out an exam to feel for the presence of abnormal growths and taking blood samples to check their inflammatory markers. Diagnostic imaging, such as an ultrasound or X-ray, will be required to confirm the presence of tumours, and your vet may want to obtain a sample of uterine tissue to confirm the presence of cancerous cells.
If the cancer has not spread, a hysterectomy may be the only treatment required. Your vet may suggest a partial hysterectomy or a complete hysterectomy, which involves the removal of all reproductive organs. If the cancer has spread to other parts of your rabbit's body, chemotherapy will be required to try and save its life. Additionally, your rabbit may be prescribed pain medication, nutritional supplements and intravenous fluids. You can care for them at home during chemotherapy, but they will require a quiet and calm living environment to rest and recover in, so you may have to separate them from other pets and young children during their treatment period.
If your rabbit has any symptoms associated with cancer of the uterus, don't be tempted to take a wait-and-see approach. These symptoms often mean something serious is wrong and treatment will be required.
For more information, contact a local vet.