Wednesday, August 21, 2013

10 Reasons why animal cancer research matters

The prevalence of animal cancer continues to rise, as approximately 4 million dogs and cats develop cancer each year in the United States.  Did you know that more than half of all pets who live 10 years or more will develop some form of cancer?  The National Veterinary Cancer Registry is working to develop a more predictive research model that will speed new drugs to market, and reduce the cost of drug discovery.
Chatter as a pup
Chatter as an older dog

Below are 10 reasons why cancer research for pets is important to us all:

  1. Animal Cancer is naturally obtained or spontaneously developed, as opposed to experimentally induced, as is the case with lab mice.
  2. In many cases, pets develop the same types of cancers as their human care-givers do.
  3. Animal tumors are similar to human tumors in terms of size and cell kinetics.  Dogs and cats also possess similar physiology and metabolism characteristics to humans, which enables us to compare treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
  4. Most pets are large enough for high resolution imaging studies, as well as surgical intervention.
  5. Dogs and cats have intact immune systems as opposed to many rodent model systems, enabling immunologic treatment approaches to be explored.
  6. Most animal cancers progress at a faster rate their human counterparts, permitting more rapid outcome determinations, such as time to metastasis, local recurrence and survival.
  7. Animal trials are more economical to perform than human trials.
  8. Because fewer "gold standard" treatments exist in veterinary medicine, it is ethically acceptable to attempt new forms of therapy – rather than to wait until all "known" treatments have failed.
  9. Dogs and cats live long enough to determine the potential late effects of treatment.
  10. And the recent elucidation of the cancer genome and its resemblance to the human genome provides unparalleled opportunities to study comparative oncology from a genetic perspective.  

The inclusion of veterinary species in clinical trials plays a key role in advancing the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer for all species.  The pharmaceutical industry is starting to invest more in animal cancer research.  But in order to accelerate the adoption of clinical trials, we need pets – in large numbers - to participate.  The National Veterinary Cancer Registry wants to identify these pets and make them available to participate in trials as they emerge around the country.

The registry is available on NVCR's website, by clicking here.

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