Twenty-Eight Years of Avian Cancer Literature: What’s Common and What’s Helped
2018 Joint EAZWV/AAZV/Leibniz-IZW Conference
Tara M. Harrison1, DVM, MPVM, DACZM, DACVPM, DECZM (Zoo Health Management); Guinevere Nease1; Ashley Zehnder2, DVM, DAVBP (Avian); Kristine Alpi1, MLS, MPH, AHIP; Scott H. Harrison3, PhD
1College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA; 2School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA; 3North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, NC, USA


Avian cancer has been reported in numerous avian species. Prior investigations of avian cancer have been case reports, case series or summaries of single-institution or laboratory evaluations of cancer.1,2 These prior investigations have primarily reported upon incidence only, without comparatively analyzing risk factors, therapies, or survival. Through systematic collection of published, individually identifiable avian cancer cases using three literature databases, we collected 487 avian cancer cases from 339 publications in 70 journals or conference proceedings, ranging in publication dates from 1945 through 2017. The papers represented 208 avian species from 75 locations. The most commonly reported neoplasm was adenocarcinoma. We evaluated factors that affected avian survival. Among these factors, birds that were imported, in a home environment or a zoo had a positive correlation with survival following a diagnosis of cancer. There were minimal differences in survival noticed between males and females. In reports where a sex was not identified, we found a reduced survival time for those birds. There was a range of survival associated with various treatments, with the method of chemotherapy and the combined method of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery having the longest survival times. Enhancing data compilation and analysis will lead to more accurate information for determining not only incidence, but also risk factors, and the time of survival of birds with neoplasia. This work will overall be leading to a better understanding of appropriate therapeutic treatments and improved care for our avian patients with cancer.


The authors would like to thank all of the authors of the published avian cancer literature to make this study possible. We would also like to thank Dr. Leigh Duke for her help and involvement in this project.

Literature Cited

1.  Castro PF, Fantoni DT, Miranda BC, Matera JM. Prevalence of neoplastic diseases in pet birds referred for surgical procedures. Vet Med Internat. 2016;4096801.

2.  Nemeth NM, Gonzalez-Astudillo V, Oesterle VPT, Howerth EW. A 5-year retrospective review of avian diseases diagnosed at the department of pathology, University of Georgia. J Comp Pathol. 2016;155:105–120.


Speaker Information
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Tara M. Harrison, DVM, MPVM, DACZM, DACVPM, DECZM (Zoo Health Management)
College of Veterinary Medicine
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC, USA

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