Lump: cyst, abcess or tumor?

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RattoPazzo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2020
Messages
111
Location
Italy
hi, I want to preface by saying that I'm just looking to get a new prospective.
I just found a lump on my rats neck, the same spot where a few months ago she got a cyst. Also in the same general area she got another cyst last week that just opened up, under her armpit. On the same side, in her ear, she also has a strange little lump... it seams like this area this is her week spot as it is the same place where about a year ago she got a mammary tumor, that was later removed. I know it's not a detailed description but I wanted to know if some of you have had similar things happened or if you have some suggestions. My usual vet wouldn't know what to do except do a tc scan, but given her age (2.5 y.o.) I wouldn't want to do it unless extremally necessary.
any opinion is welcome. 🐭
also, here are some cute bonus pictures for your trouble
WhatsApp Image 2022-03-31 at 21.05.56.jpeg WhatsApp Image 2022-03-31 at 21.05.41.jpeg
 

Evermore

Active Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2019
Messages
26
Location
Ontario, Canada
A delayed response, but I can weigh in from personal experience and as a rat wrangler. I would err on the side of caution and consult the vet. But - particularly if your vet is not experienced with exotics - come with some questions of your own. They may be willing or able to do a bit of deeper digging for you. What I mean by that is things like:
  1. Are these cysts, tumors, or abscesses? A very important distinction, as they impact her health and prognosis in drastically different ways.
  2. Would it be worth trying antibiotics? If yes, what do they advise to keep gut flora up to prevent digestive upset (particularly at her age)?
  3. What can you do at home to make her more comfortable? (i.e. as-needed pain meds, anti-dizziness meds, etc.; and if so, make sure to get an accurate weight on her - if she's losing weight, get a mail scale for home; got mine online for about $10 CAD [~€7 or €8]).
You say she had a cyst in that same spot before, so it could likely have regrown. If the cyst was not surgically removed - and completely removed, meaning all the lining is gone as well - then it can quickly regrow. Some do go away by themselves, but those may come and go as her immune system changes.

Abscesses can also reappear, typically in exactly the same spot. If the infection was drained fully, allowed to heal from inside out, and [sometimes] treated with antibiotics, however, this is unlikely (but not impossible).

Tumors almost always come back. Age-related and benign; or cancerous and malignant, since tumor growth is essentially a cell's inability to reproduce/replace itself correctly due to a variety of things (mammary tumors tend to be hormone-related).

Needless to say, all 3 of those outcomes run the risk of reappearing in an older rat simply due to age. Usually with exotics, depending on their condition, it will become a call of do you proceed with an aggressive treatment (surgical removal), or if you choose a treatment plan that focuses more on pain management and comfort (or antibiotics if necessary). Based on the above photos, while you can tell she is a senior girl, there's still life in those eyes yet. Ultimately, the call is yours; but for her comfort, I would consult the vet to get a for-sure diagnosis on those lumps and see what alternatives may be possible.
 
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RattoPazzo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2020
Messages
111
Location
Italy
thanks for the detailed response.
the newest cyst has now been removed and she seams to have healed up pretty nicely. she did not go to the vet as it opened up on its own in the night and I just treated it like I did the others. it was a stressful few days for her and she is still pretty out of it. At the moment I can't feel any lumps where the cyst was, and the thing in her ear has also staid the same.
I will defiantly look into pain management as she also has HLD that seams to have progressed in the few days she was in her hospital cage after her cyst was gone.
 

Evermore

Active Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2019
Messages
26
Location
Ontario, Canada
Good to know she's doing well. There are definitely some pain management options for rats out there (from very lowkey to heavier duty stuff) depending on what she needs. For the HLD, the main thing will just be to make sure the cage is safe and accessible. Lower the angle of any ramps, make sure there's no significant falls (set up hammocks to "catch" areas where rats may fall), and just make sure her belly stays clean as it will drag more/she may not be able to clean it as well.

Not necessary, but for my old HLD girl we used to "bicycle" her back legs gently (she allowed this, though) to keep circulation up and limit atrophy.

Best of luck to you guys and her healing!
 

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