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Hamster + ear mass

Dear Dr.,

We have a tan colored hamster several years old that was purchased from a pet shop. It was doing well until yesterday when a mass was seen protruding from its left ear; in addition, its left eye was almost closed. We took the hamster to a vet, who apirated a small amount of blood from the ear lesion, which felt "hard."  We opted for conservative treatment (10 days of twice daily oral antibiotics and 5 days of a once daily oral NSAID). How common are brain tumors in hamsters? Are they due to viruses (JK, or otherwise)?



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234713 tn?1283530259
The Hamster life span is usually only 2 or so years.  I am happy that your hamster seems to have exceeded the average lifespan of the typical hamster, however, neoplasms do occur more frequently with age.  Unfortunately, cancer is high on the list of causes for your hamsters ear mass.  4% of all hamsters develop cancers, but many of them are benign neoplasms.    The most common types of skin cancers in hamsters are: melanoma, benign tumors of hair follicles or sebaceous glands, keratocanthomas, squamous papillomas and carcinomas, lymphosarcomas, and basal cell tumors.

Another possibility is a tooth root abscess.  An abscess in a back molar could theoretically appear as a mass in the ear, and if large enough could press on the eye.
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