Doctor from Pittsburgh Zoo removes 2 breast cancer tumors from 11-year-old lemur

Lemur undergoes breast cancer surgery

PITTSBURGH — A lemur named Caera at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has undergone what zoo officials said was their first unilateral mastectomy.

The zoo first noticed something wrong with the 11-year-old ring-tailed lemur earlier this year when a keeper found swelling near her breast. After an examination from the zoo's director of animal health, Ginger Sturgeon, it was determined that the mass was breast cancer.

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“Initial test results from Caera’s lumpectomy surgery showed that she had two separate tumors,” Dr. Sturgeon said. “One was a ductal carcinoma and the other was a tubulopapillary carcinoma. Unfortunately based on the histopathology Caera required a second and more extensive surgery but the good news is that Caera’s cancer is relatively low grade.”

Zoo officials said Caera is resting and will be returned to the Tropical Rain Forest Complex soon.

In the meantime, Caera will be monitored by Sturgeon and her team and given anti-inflammatory drugs.

“We are hopeful with this surgery that Caera will have a long, happy, cancer-free life.  Animals are extremely resilient,” said Dr. Sturgeon. “They have a great capacity to heal.”

Dr. Jack Demos, founder and medical director of SurgiCorp International, assisted Sturgeon with the surgery.