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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Cancer is common in rabbits and several different types may be seen

Common types of neoplasia reported to occur in rabbits include :

  • Interstitial cell tumour of the testes
  • Lymphosarcoma (juvenile and young) - may be a genetically transmitted autosomal  recessive disease. Can develop in any tissue, but most often involves the lymph nodes, skin, kidneys, liver and spleen.
  • Mammary tumours - spontaneous, mainly carcinomas.
  • Myxoma virus infection - results in skin tumours (fibromas)
  • Nephroma (juvenile) develops in the embryo
  • Papilloma - caused by papilloma viruses, and often involves the skin (Shope papilloma) or mouth. In the skin they can be persistent, become malignant and undergo metastasis. In the oral cavity the warts are small and grey-white nodules and often form under the tongue as well as on the gums.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Uterine adenocarcinoma :
    • It is most often seen in Dutch, Havana, French Silver and Tan rabbits. It is reported to be rare in Belgian and Rex rabbits.
    • It most often occurs in rabbits over 3 years. Over 50% of rabbits may be affected in predisposed breeds.
    • It may be hormone dose-dependent (oestrogen)
    • Signs of reproductive failure may be noticed in the early stages - abortion, failure to conceive, resorption, stillbirths, small litter size, retained fetuses.
    • There may be a direct link between uterine hyperplasia, or pregnancy toxaemia and the later development of cancer
    • Metastatic spread - (local or haematological) is common after the disease has been present for over 9 months

Many forms of cancer in rabbits lend themselves to surgery if they are recognised early enough, and hysterectomy can prevent the development of uterine adenocarcinoma. Chemotherapy and radiation are reported to have been used successfully in rabbits as well as amputation for localised bone cancer in a limb.


Updated October 2013