How to Treat Tumors in Hamsters

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Talk with your vet about surgical treatment.,
Discuss the risks of surgery.,
Ask about other cancer treatment strategies.,
Feed your hamster food and water.,
Have your vet perform surgery.,
Pick up your hamster.,
Examine the incision site.,
Watch your hamster for signs of pain.,
Observe how much your hamster eats.,
Follow up with your vet.

After your vet has diagnosed a tumor in your hamster, talk with them about how to treat the tumor. For external tumors (located on the skin), surgery is the best treatment option. For internal tumors (inside the body), though, surgery would be more challenging because of a hamster’s small size and tiny internal organs.Your vet can help you determine whether surgery would be a good treatment option for your hamster.
If you have a female hamster that has breast cancer, your vet may suggest other surgical procedures in addition to tumor removal. They may recommend removing the reproductive organs (spay) or removing the affected mammary gland (mastectomy) to keep the cancer from coming back.;
, Although surgery is usually the best treatment option, it does not come without risks. For example, because hamsters are so small, they can suffer from shock during surgery.Shock occurs when the vital organs, like the heart, do not receive enough blood to function properly.In addition, because internal tumors are usually quite large by the time they are discovered, they are very difficult to surgically remove.

Surgery can be expensive, once you factor in the costs of anesthesia and any medications that may be needed before or after surgery.When you talk with your vet, bring up any concerns you may have about your hamster undergoing surgery.

, Sometimes, a hamster’s tumor cannot be completely removed surgically. It may be too large or located in an area that would make surgery difficult. In these cases, other treatment strategies, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, might work. Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs that kill cancer cells by disrupting the cell cycle (cell division and replication). Radiation therapy uses a focused beam of radiation to kill cancer cells.

Your vet may recommend either chemotherapy or radiation therapy for your hamster. Keep in mind, though, that because hamsters are so small, they are usually unable to handle chemotherapy or radiation therapy.If you are concerned that chemotherapy or radiation therapy on your hamster would do harm than good, you could decide to either let your hamster live with the tumor or euthanize your hamster. Make your decision based on whether your hamster will have a good quality of life with the tumor.

, Unlike other larger pets, hamsters can have free access to food and water up until surgery. Prior to surgery, continue to feed your hamster as usual and provide it with plenty of fresh water. On the day of surgery, prepare a package of your hamster’s normal amount of food. Bring this food with you to the vet, along with your hamster’s water bottle.

, Because of your hamster’s small size, your veterinary team will be extra careful to monitor your hamster during surgery. After anesthetizing your hamster, they will monitor its body temperature, breathing rate, and heart rate. They will also give your hamster fluids so it remains well hydrated during surgery.

Your vet will make an incision and carefully remove the tumor.
After the surgery, either your vet or a member of the veterinary team will call you to let you know how the surgery went and how your hamster is doing after surgery. They will also let you know when you can come pick up your hamster.

, When you pick up your hamster, your vet will give you a set of instructions on how to care for your hamster at home. Make sure to follow these instructions carefully to help your hamster recover after surgery. Before heading home, ask your vet any questions you may have about at-home care, including:

How long will it make my hamster to recover?
What if my hamster looks sick?
Will my hamster need medications?

, Check your hamster’s incision site each day. It is normal for the incision to look a little red for a day or two after surgery. However, if the incision site is swollen or oozing yellow or green discharge, it may be infected. Take your hamster back to your vet if the incision site looks abnormal.

If the incision is infected, your vet will prescribe an antibiotic for your hamster. The antibiotic would be in liquid form. You would place the prescribed amount of antibiotic in a small syringe (without the needle), open your hamster’s mouth, and slowly push the syringe’s contents into your hamster’s mouth.
To keep your hamster from chewing at the incision, your vet may give you a small plastic collar (Elizabethan collar) to put around your hamster’s neck.Your hamster would need to wear the collar for at least a few days after surgery.

, Your hamster will probably be in some pain after surgery. However, because hamsters are prey animals, they try to hide signs of pain.Your hamster may try to hide its pain, so you will have to watch it extra closely for any signs of discomfort. Signs of pain in hamsters include:

Decreased activity, scruffy furDecreased appetite, squeals of painHunched posture, not wanting to come out of their sleeping area Call your vet if your hamster is in pain. Your vet may prescribe a liquid pain medication for you to give your hamster.

, Your hamster will probably feel a little groggy right after surgery, so it may not want to eat much at home.Feed your hamster its regular amount of food and see how much it eats. If your hamster still isn’t back to its normal eating routine after a few days, it may feel sick or be in pain.

If your hamster is not eating normally, your vet may recommend a product called Oxbow Critical Care. This product is usually fed to herbivores (plant-eating animals) like guinea pigs, but might encourage your hamster to start eating again., Even if your hamster has a smooth recovery after surgery, your vet will want to see your hamster for at least 1 follow-up visit. During this visit, your vet will examine the incision site and make sure your hamster looks healthy overall. Your vet may also want to see your hamster every few months to examine it for new tumors.Your vet will let you know how often to bring your hamster in for an examination.
If your hamster has developed other tumors, you and your vet will discuss treatment options again.

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