Urogenital carcinoma is common in wild California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) along the west coast of the US. From 1979 to 1994, this cancer was observed in 18% (66/370) of necropsied subadult and adult sea lions at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California. A retrospective review of records from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2015 was performed to characterize prevalence and characteristics of cancer over this decade. Fourteen percent (263/1917) of necropsied sea lions had cancer, of which 90% (237/263) were urogenital carcinoma. The prevalence of urogenital carcinoma was significantly higher in adults compared to juveniles and subadults. Advanced-stage disease with metastases was identified histologically in 78% (182/232) of cases and was the cause of death in 95% (172/182) of these cases. Metastases were most common in lung and lymph nodes, and hydronephrosis, secondary to ureter obstruction by metastases, was identified in 62% (114/185) of animals with advanced disease. No significant temporal change in prevalence was detected over the decade, and this highly aggressive, fatal cancer remains common in stranded California sea lions.
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Vol. 54 • No. 3