What do you think of this picture? This is one of the clinical cases I presented last week during one of my lectures at the New Brunswick Veterinary Medical Association (NBVMA). Thanks to the Turning Point technology (something great, each attendee has a clicker that allows them to answer questions I am asking during the presentation!), I asked everybody in the room what they thought the queen on the picture was suffering from:
Well, you read the title of the post, so I guess you found the answer! It’s indeed what we refer to in veterinary medicine as fibroadenomatosis. Not a lot of good answers on that one… but honestly, I was excepting that. This is not a disease we’ll see a lot in private veterinary practice… except if you work with feline breeders.
Few things important to know on this disease on the following slides:
In my opinion, breeders must keep in mind that fibroadenomatosis is a sex hormone-related disease, this hormone being progesterone. As you know, progesterone is secreted by the ovaries of the queen after ovulation. Remember, queens are mating induced-ovulators: there is therefore a possibility that the animal suffering from fibroadenomatosis has been mated and is in fact pregnant (and that’s why I would always recommend performing an ultrasound examination in these cases).
Another possibility: queens treated with what we call progestins, aka progesterone analogues.Typically these molecules are used as contraceptive pills in cats. In some countries feline breeders use them a lot to stop the heats in queens, especially before a show (because usually the animal’s coat is not in great shape during this period – which is understandable since estrogens, main hormones secreted when the queens are in heats, have an effect on the hair cycle). I haven’t heard much about their use in Canada, it does not seem to be that popular… and I honestly think this is great: these drugs indeed act like progesterone… except that they are 100 to 150 times more potent. Progesterone-related diseases (among which uterine diseases like pyometra, cystic endometrial hyperplasia and mammary gland diseases like… fibroadenomatosis!) can therefore be promoted in case of prolonged use. That’s why repro specialists like me usually don’t recommend their use in breeding animals, and I was glad to hear that this was not common in my new country!
A treatment is obviously needed because if nothing is done, there are usually complications like ulceration of the affected mammary glands and then subsequent bacterial infection of these lesions. The goal of the treatment is rather simple: removing the progesterone’s influence. Neutering is for sure an option to consider, but you will agree, not so valuable when it comes to breeding individuals… Medical options have fortunately been developed over the years and we now have really efficient protocols. Most of the cases I treated were usually solved in 3-4 weeks. In one recent study, it was shown that these queens that were treated could be normally bred thereafter, and in all of them except one, they observed no recurrence of the disease.