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Cat and Dog Cancers Applicable toward Human Cancer Prevention

Tim Boyer's picture

Tracking the incidence of cat and dog cancers plays an important role toward human cancer prevention and treatment, say veterinary researchers at the University of Missouri. Because cats and dogs share the same living space as humans, potential environmental factors that could cause tumor progression may be identified.

In a study titled “Recent Trends in Feline Intestinal Neoplasia: An Epidemiologic Study of 1,129 Cases in the Veterinary Medical Database from 1964 to 2004,” researchers at the University of Missouri mined a large veterinary medical database in search of incidences of feline intestinal cancers. What they found was that the majority of intestinal cancers in cats were lymphomas (cancers of the immune system) in the small intestines. Intestinal lymphomas are responsible for thousands of deaths each year in the United States.

According to a news release by the University of Missouri, “We are looking for patterns of cancer development in animals, so we can find common risk factors.” said Kim Selting, associate teaching professor of oncology at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. “I mentored a former resident, Kerry Rissetto, as she examined intestinal tumors in cats on a very large scale, and we believe we can use this information to eventually identify cancer risk factors and treatments for humans.”

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Selting also says that tracking animal cancer is important because animals share the environment with humans; and therefore, by observing patterns of cancer development, health professionals may become aware of environmental factors that could be causing tumor progression in different species, including humans.

“Animal health care may predict what could be coming for human health care,” Selting says. “For example, dogs are really the only species, other than humans, that develop the toughest type of prostate cancers. If a treatment develops that can help with prostate cancer, we can test it on dogs and find results faster because cancer in dogs progresses faster than cancer in humans.”

In a cancer symposium in 2007, research was presented that showed that certain breeds of dogs were more susceptible to developing certain types of cancers over other breeds of dog. For example, osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer) seen in Greyhounds and Rottweilers is also a common cancer seen in children. Researchers believe that identifying the genetic causes of cancers in dogs can lead to finding treatments for comparable human cancers.

According to a statement attributed to Dr. Ali Mobasheri, an Associate Professor from the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at The University of Nottingham, “The benefits of taking a comparative approach to cancer research will be of mutual benefit to humans and companion animals. That is because cancer is cancer. It is a similar disease in animals and humans.”

Source: MU News Bureau