Parakeets Tumors and Cancer

As I mention in several of my FAQ pages, tumors are unfortunately common in parakeets. A healthy parakeet might live to be 15 or 20 years old. Many parakeets, though, only make it to around 7-9 years before they develop a tumor and die. A tumor is a 'lump' of cancer, just like humans get cancer and tumors. With humans, there are serious drugs and radiation involved in trying to beat cancer, and many times (if not most of the time) the treatment is unsuccessful. Cancer is still a very powerful foe in our modern world.

Because the cancer is a physical lump growing inside the parakeet's body, and because the body is so tiny to begin with, it is often practically impossible to just "remove" the tumor. Remember, with human beings they can't just cut out the tumor and have the entire tumor removed, usually. Usually they have to give strong doses of medicine as well as radiation before they get rid of all of the cancer - if they can even achieve it. If a woman has breast cancer, even if they lop off the entire breast, there is still often cancer 'bits' in her system that remain.

Since parakeets do not have easily removable body parts, and since the tumor is usually deep within them, unfortunately the best you can usually do is allow them to die peacefully vs having them linger slowly in pain as the cancer slowly kills them.

XRays and blood tests can usually verify that cancer is indeed the problem with your keet, rather than some other ailment. If you don't see a lump somewhere, the cancer could still be inside them and causing them not to eat well, or walk well, or so on.

There are rare instances where the cancerous tumor / lump is 100% on the edge of the body - i.e. a lump at the end of their wing. In this case it can be possible to cut off the lump and still have the parakeet survive. It will be expensive, but it might work. Just remember that surgery is always risky, and the bird could still die from complications.

I have had two birds develop known tumors. Here is more information about each situation, to help you understand how tumors can vary.

Tumor in Parakeet - Pinto
Tumor in Parakeet - Santo

UPDATE: Cancer vs Tumor
A medical doctor sent me this clarification - please read: "A tumor is a group of cells that have abnormally proliferated. Cancer represents those tumor cells that not only have abnormally proliferated, but they have lost the normal function of "programmed cell death" and often have lost many of the inherent normal features of the once normal cell that has transformed. They proliferate, unregulated, and abnormally, and will invade local tissues and possibly metastasize to other sites in the body. Not all tumors are cancer, in fact many are benign. That means they just stay where they are and do not have the ability to transform into cancer no matter how big they get. Some cancers can be cured - for instance a local cancer that is completely resected, or some types of cancer that are extremely sensitive to chemotherapy such as testicular cancer or some childhood leukemias. When we cannot see any cancer but do not know if there is cancer we cannot say, we say the cancer is in remission, which means there is no clinically evident disease. Obviously this is well beyond the scope of the parakeet web site - but I wanted to be sure that you understood the subtleties."

NOTE: I AM NOT A VET! If you have ANY concern about your parakeet's health and safety, no 'far off person' on the web will be able to accurately diagnose the issue. You need to bring your keet to a real, live vet to see the symptoms first hand and take appropriate action.

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