Bird Owner’s Guide to Avian Tumors
Most bird lovers do not know much about avian tumors so the presence of a lump or bump beneath your bird’s skin might get you into a panic. However, just because there is an abnormality, the problem is not necessary a tumor. There are a range of things which can cause bumps beneath your bird’s skin.
The first thing you will need to do is to determine what the bump is. This, of course, is best done by a veterinarian who can determine what it is. But there are a number of causes for those unsightly lumps and there is no reason to automatically conclude that your bird has a tumor. The bird could have an abscess, a fat deposit or a cyst. If the bird is female, a bulge in the abdominal region could indicate the presence of an egg. A swelling could also indicate than a particular organ is diseased and needs treatment. The most important thing to note is that while lumps and bumps caused by abscesses or cysts may be firm, they are usually not very hard since they are filled with fluid. An avian tumor, however, is a solid mass of tissue. The tumor can occur anywhere on the body and it can grow rapidly and spread. It may grow inside the body or under the skin. While the other medical conditions mentioned above should be treated, very prompt treatment/removal of a tumor is of the utmost urgency to avoid your beloved friend from suffering an untimely and uncomfortable end.
Of course, just as with humans, tumors may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). However, since most pet birds are so small, even benign tumors can be life-threatening so it is imperative that they are treated as quickly as possible. Benign tumors tend not to spread and they grow very slowly. They can normally be removed fairly easily and will usually, but not always, never come back. Unfortunately the same is not true of malignant tumors, which often invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. They’ll spread to different parts of the bird’s body more easily, as the cancer cells break off and travel to other tissues in the body via the bloodstream. The prognosis for this sort of tumor is bad, since even if you remove the main growth, small portions of the tumor may have already migrated elsewhere so the tumor will still be present in the bird. Malignant tumors also tend to grow faster than benign tumors.
Unfortunately, the occurrence of tumors are not all that uncommon in our avian friends and there are actually a surprising number of tumor types that are commonly found in birds. Therefore if you find a suspicious lump on your bird and you are unsure of what it is, make sure that you get your feathered friend to a vet as soon as possible – especially if the lump is hard and is growing fast. Prompt action could ensure your friend’s survival!