TW // Clarendon Street Vets explains the cancer risks for unneutered female rabbits
October 21, 2022
Trigger Warning – This article contains subject matter that some readers might find upsetting.
As November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month, the vets at our Cambridge surgery are sharing their knowledge on uterine tumours in rabbits. Our aim is to help pet owners make an informed decision about their rabbit’s reproductive care.
If you have any concerns about your rabbit’s health, get in touch with our 28 Clarendon Street team by calling 01223 359021.
About uterine tumours in rabbits
Uterine tumours (cancers of the womb) are said to be the single most common cancer affecting rabbits. This type of cancer is is extremely aggressive and quickly spreads to the lungs and other organs in the abdomen.
The reason that female rabbits are prone to cancer of the womb is due to their overactive reproductive tract. Regardless of whether they reproduce or not, female rabbits have the ability to breed exceptionally fast. As they age, this causes the uterine wall to undergo metaplasia (when cells change form) and then neoplasia – which is the formation of tumours.
Which rabbits are at risk?
All unneutered does (female rabbits) are at risk of developing uterine tumours. It is expected that around 40% of unneutered does will develop tumours by two years old, and this number doubles by six years of age. The only preventative treatment for cancer of the womb is neutering as this removes the uterus and therefore the possibility of this disease developing.
Rabbit neutering also helps to prevent unplanned pregnancies; you can book a rabbit neutering appointment at Clarendon Street Vets by calling 01223 359021.
Signs of illness to watch out for
- Blood in the urine
- Bloody discharge
- Weight loss
- Swelling in the abdominal area
The above are all signs that there could be a uterine tumour present. If the cancer has spread to the lungs, you may notice coughing or breathing difficulties.
Some of the above symptoms could also be due to other health issues so it is always best to see a vet. You can book a rabbit health check at our 28 Clarendon Street vet practice by calling 01223 359021.
How we diagnose and treat cancer of the womb
Depending on the symptoms your rabbit is displaying, they are likely to need an ultrasound scan or an x-ray. An ultrasound may be able to show an abnormal growth in/on the uterus and then exploratory surgery can confirm if it is a tumour. An x-ray may be able to show secondary tumours in the lungs if they are large enough.
Treatment for uterine tumours in rabbits involves the surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries for the best chance of recovery. However, if the cancer has spread, sadly the outcome is unlikely to be positive.
At Clarendon Street Vets, our vets will talk you through the best option for your rabbit’s ongoing care and can schedule any necessary exploratory scans or procedures.
If you are concerned about your rabbit’s health, book an appointment with any of our highly experienced vets as soon as possible by calling 01223 359021.