2022 journal article

A Multi-Institutional Collaboration to Understand Neoplasia, Treatment and Survival of Snakes


author keywords: Boidae; chemotherapy; Colubridae; neoplasia; oncology; surgery; prevalence; Viperida
Source: ORCID
Added: January 26, 2022

This multi-institutional collaborative study of neoplasia in snakes reviewed medical records of snakes at each facility to determine species prevalence, survival, and methods of treatment. Complete species numbers of snakes were also collected at each facility. In total, 65 species, 133 snakes, and 149 unique neoplasias were included in this study. Affected species, age, sex, and their tumor prevalence, tumor type and location, metastasis, treatment, and survival data are reported. The highest species-specific tumor prevalence was in Common or Northern Watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon) (30.8%, n = 4 of 13), Eastern Diamond-Backed Rattlesnakes (Crotalus adamanteus) (26.3%, n = 5 of 19), and Timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) (22.7%, n = 5 of 22). Malignant tumors predominated (86.6%, n = 129 of 149) with soft tissue sarcomas being the most common (30.2%, n = 45 of 149). Snakes with malignant neoplasia, metastases, or indeterminate presence of metastases were statistically more likely to die from their neoplasms than snakes having either benign neoplasia or no diagnosed metastases (p < 0.05). Gender, taxonomic family, and species of those evaluated did not significantly affect the outcome of snakes with neoplasia. Only 27.1% (n = 36 of 133) of snakes received a reported form of treatment and, for those treated, surgical excision was the most common treatment modality. There was not a significant difference in outcome based on treatment; however, surgery and chemotherapy were associated with death from a cause other than their tumor.